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Engineer made most of opportunities in U.S.

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John N. Mandalakas, 78, of North Huntingdon, died Tuesday, April 15, 2014.

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By Nicole Chynoweth
Saturday, April 19, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

When he immigrated from Chios, Greece, to pursue an education, John Mandalakas appreciated the meritocracy he found in the United States.

“There was a fairness — that if you worked hard and did the right thing, you would be successful,” said his son, Nicholas Mandalakas of Lancaster.

John N. Mandalakas of North Huntingdon died on Tuesday, April 15, 2014, in UPMC Presbyterian of pulmonary fibrosis. He was 78.

Mr. Mandalakas made his way to the United States in 1956 with help from family members who had immigrated. He studied electrical engineering at Ohio University. Upon graduating in 1961, he moved to Greensburg with his wife, Kay Mandalakas, to work in Westinghouse Semiconductor Division in Youngwood.

“He always had this interest in technology and electricity,” his son said. “He was very much an engineer.”

Mr. Mandalakas earned his master's degree in electrical engineering from Carnegie Tech, now Carnegie-Mellon University. He later worked in Westinghouse's Nuclear Division and Transportation Division, where he helped develop “people movers,” the horizontal escalators used in airports, his son said.

Wanting to develop his ideas, Mr. Mandalakas founded Mesta Electronics in North Huntingdon in 1977. Named for a village in Chios, the company designs and manufactures high-tech power supply equipment. His daughter, Debbie Leventopoulos and her husband, Peter, work for the company.

“My father liked as big of a challenge as you could put in front of him,” his daughter said, adding that he “never really retired.”

Before the company started building its designs in 1986, Mr. Mandalakas was adamant about manufacturing in Western Pennsylvania. As a businessman, his practices were “black and white,” and he never compromised, his son-in-law said.

“I never heard him say anything was too challenging,” Peter Leventopoulos said.

Mr. Mandalakas is survived by his wife, Kay Mandalakas; son Nicholas Mandalakas of Lancaster; daughters Debbie Leventopoulos and husband, Peter, of North Huntingdon, Anna Caldwell and husband, Edwin, of Houston, Texas, and Elaine Demos and husband, Andrew, of Wading River, N.Y.; and eight grandchildren.

Visitation will be held from 2 to 4 and 6 to 9 p.m. Monday in Patrick T. Lanigan Funeral Home, 700 Linden at Cable avenues, East Pittsburgh. A funeral service will be held at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday in Presentation of Christ Greek Orthodox Church, following an additional half-hour viewing. Burial will follow in Grandview Cemetery, North Versailles.

Memorial donations may be made to the International Orthodox Christian Charities, 110 West Road, Suite 360, Baltimore, MD 21204.

Nicole Chynoweth is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-850-2862 or

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