George A. Kidonakis
George waited in the growing cold. With each approaching car, he wondered if the driver would be Petros, the brother of his former shipmate, Panayiotis. They’d look for him under the Marshall Field’s clock at the corner of State and Washington. George was grateful for the brothers' invitation. They would find him work in Joliet, that much he knew. He could not yet know the joy which would follow – meeting his wife, children, grandchildren – the whole new life waiting on the other side of that ride.
George A. Kidonakis was born on October 9, 1950, to Eleni (née Antonakis) and Antonios Kidonakis of Heraklion, on the island of Crete in Greece. At the age of 5, he lost his mother to illness and was raised in an orphanage in Neapolis, Crete, where he attended school and church, and apprenticed as a shoemaker. After ten years, he was reunited with his father in Heraklion, and eventually with all with his siblings, in Piraeus on the mainland.
From 1967 to 1977 George was employed by the Greek cargo ship company Hellenic Lines as a cook for the crew, routinely sailing to nearly a hundred ports throughout five continents. During this time, he developed the culinary craft that would become his vocation. For two of these years, he also served in the Hellenic Army, where he was posted in Tripoli and Athens.
The only member of his family to settle in the United States, he married Anastasia Skopes on September 17, 1978, at All Saints Greek Orthodox Church in Joliet, Illinois. Together they raised their family nearby in Ann’s hometown of Morris. George was extremely proud of his Greek heritage and of being a U.S. citizen.
He continued his work as a chef for restaurants in the Joliet area, and later owned and operated the Golden Flame / Morris Garden (currently the Morris Diner and Pancake House), the Green Mill Cafe in Ottawa, and George’s Gyros in Morris. The community enjoyed his delicious renditions of classic Greek and American cuisine, along with the fellowship he offered through his illuminating smile, humorous spirit, and warm hospitality. George will also be remembered for his gentle nature, humble demeanor, strong work ethic, and generous heart.
As a youth, he found joy in playing soccer and ping pong. In the 1980s he took up bowling, and in the summer of 1993 discovered his absolute favorite pastime, the game of golf. George’s friends often called him “chip and a putt” in reference to his excellent short game. He loved everything about golf, from the challenge of the sport to the relationships he fostered on the course.
George died peacefully in his Joliet home on September 16, 2019, the eve of he and Ann’s 41st wedding anniversary, surrounded by family.
He was preceded in death by his dear parents; beloved brother Nikolaos (Georgia) Kidonakis; and cherished sister Aspasia (late Nikolaos) Stratopoulos. He is survived by his loving sisters Kalliope (Andreas) Paraskevas and Stella (late Dimitris) Isaris of Greece; devoted wife Anastasia Kidonakis of Joliet; adoring children Anthony George (Christina) Kidonakis of Joliet, James George Kidonakis of Morris, and Elaine Ann (Brian) Murphey of Naperville; many affectionate nieces and nephews; and two recent additions to the new Greek-American family he founded: the light of his life, granddaughter Anna Diane Murphey (age 4), and the apple of his eye, grandson Andrew George Murphey (age 1).
George will be missed by the many people whose lives he touched. May his memory be eternal. Ο Θεός να αναπαύσει την ψυχή του. Christ is Risen.
Visitation for George Kidonakis will be held at Fred C. Dames Funeral Home, 3200 Black at Essington Roads, Joliet, on Friday, September 20, 2019 from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. with the Trisagion service at 6:00 p.m. The funeral services will take place Saturday, September 21, 2019 at 11:15 a.m. from the funeral home chapel to All Saints Greek Orthodox Church, 102 N. Broadway Street, Joliet, where the service will begin at 12:00 p.m. Interment will follow at Evergreen Cemetery in Morris. In lieu of flowers, memorials in his name to All Saints Greek Orthodox Church or Joliet Area Community Hospice would be appreciated. For more information, please call 815-741-5500 or visit his Memorial Tribute at www.fredcdames.com