CANFIELD The Greek Orthodox community is suffering the loss of one of its finest citizens and community servants on the local, state and national levels with the passing of Past Supreme President of the Order of AHEPA, Cleo N. Zambetis, on Thursday, July 18, at Hospice House in Youngstown, Ohio.
Cleos journey in America began as a small boy who traveled with his mother from the island of Samos, Greece, where he was born to the parents of John and Katina Nicolaou Zambetis on Nov. 23, 1925, and ended leaving a great legacy of leadership and service while surrounded by his loving and supportive wife of 64 years, Faye Arfaras Zambetis, and the daughters he loved so dearly, Kathy Conrad and Tulla Zambetis, in the place that he was always proud to call home, Youngstown, Ohio.
A great champion of Hellenism, Cleo emerged as a leader early on while serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He received an Honorable Discharge in 1946 for injuries sustained during a Japanese Kamikaze suicide attack on his ship in the waters off Okinawa on April 2, 1945.
A 1943 graduate of Campbell Memorial High School, Cleo was a founding member and Godfather of Archangel Michael Greek Orthodox Church in his beloved hometown of Campbell, Ohio, which was founded in 1954. His lifelong stewardship in the church also includes membership at St. John the Forerunner Church in Boardman, Ohio, where he has served on the Parish Council Board of Directors and where, with his wife, he remained active. From his stewardship and theosis, he received the singular highest honor bestowed upon a lay person within the Greek Orthodox Church, being named an Archon with the title Megas Referandarios by His All Holiness the late Ecumenical Patriarch Demetrios I of Constantinople (Istanbul), Turkey, in 1985.
A successful entrepreneur and businessman, Mr. Zambetis founded CAMCO Painting Service which he steered as its CEO for over 50 years, providing accomplished commercial, industrial, and electrical utility painting services. He also served as Past President of the Mahoning and Trumbull County Painting and Decorating Trade Association. Additionally, he was a Master Mason member and a member of the Youngstown Shrine Club, The Al Koran Temple and Aut Mori Grotto.
Next to God and his family, Cleos most cherished affiliation was with the Order of AHEPA The American Hellenic Progressive Association. Little did he know that when he was initiated into Youngstown Lincoln Chapter #89 in 1960, that he would go on to serve the fraternal organization for some 50 years, in many capacities. In 1984, culminating in being unanimously elected by the delegates to serve as Supreme President at the National Convention in Miami Beach, Fla., he was the first AHEPAN from the state of Ohio to be elevated to the national presidency. During his tenure he traveled extensively throughout the United States and Greece, having met with world leaders and dignitaries in the cause of service to Hellenic ideals and with accomplishments that have been well recorded: Establishing the John G. Thevos AHEPA Institute of Hellenic Studies at Deree College in Athens, Greece; Creating an AHEPA Olympic Study Group; The expansion of AHEPAs national headquarters in Washington, D.C., was successfully spearheading the drive to build an apartment housing complex for the elderly via support of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. In 1996, Cleo proudly led the 3.9 million dollar construction of AHEPA 89 Apartments in Boardman, Ohio, to accomplish his dream of bringing a home for the elderly to the Mahoning Valley, and he served for many years as Director of that local complex.
Of all of his many accomplishments, awards and community service, however honorable, his favorite role was that of a husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. He will leave a great void in the lives of his devoted wife, Faye, his beloved daughters Kathy and Tulla, and his pride and joy - his loving grandson, Jonathan Conrad and wife Lisa who blessed him last year with a beautiful great-granddaughter, Avery Faye and his adoring granddaughter, Kristin Conrad and her fiancé, Stefano Redaelli. Cleo also leaves a brother, Arist Zambetis, and sister, Mary Birmingham, both who meant very much to him, as well as a host of other family members and friends.
Preceding Cleo in death was his loving brother, Gus Zambetis; his goddaughter, Janice Glaros Pantel; and his wonderful son-in-law whom he loved like a son, Ted Conrad.
The life story of Cleo N. Zambetis well exemplifies his Hellenic view and illustrates the lesson of St. Luke: He is like a man who built a house and dug deep, laying a solid foundation.
There will be calling hours from 9:30 to 11 a.m. Tuesday, July 23, at St. John Greek Orthodox Church, 4355 Glenwood Ave., Boardman, Ohio, where funeral services will begin at 11 a.m.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Boardman, Archangel Michael Greek Orthodox Church in Campbell, The AHEPA Buckeye Scholarship Foundation, or Hospice House.
Arrangements are by Vaschak- Kirilla Funeral Home.
Rest well, faithful servant. May his memory be eternal.