Photography

Peter Stamos

March 3, 1926 ~ March 19, 2022 (age 96)

Obituary

A loving man and one much loved, a family patriarch, a world traveler, a well educated man and an educator, a gentle man and a true gentleman, Peter Stamos, of Woodbridge, Connecticut, passed peacefully on March 19, 2022, joining so many beloved ancestors in his place of repose, having just recently celebrated 96 glorious years.  Peter was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut on March 3, 1926 to immigrants from Greece, Samuel and Catherine Stamos.  He was a graduate of Bridgeport Central High School, New Haven State Teachers College, University of Connecticut School of Education, and Columbia University Teachers College, having obtained his Teaching and Master’s Degrees. 

He revered his childhood in the South End of Bridgeport with his lifelong Greek buddies, where he first learned his faith at the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Bridgeport. Immediately upon graduating from Bridgeport Central, he and his friends enlisted in the United States Army, proudly serving for two years, from September 1944 to June 1946, in the European Theatre.  As an 18 year old, he disembarked on the beaches of LeHavre, France, in December 1944, and served in battle action in the Eighth Army Division (“Thundering Herd”) in the Black Forest of Germany.  At the war’s end, he was assigned to the 5th Division and served in the United States Occupation Forces throughout Germany and Czechoslovakia.  He was discharged in 1946 as a Corporal in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, after attaining the Euro-AFR-ME Medal, with two battle stars.

Peter met his soulmate, Mary Vartelas, at a Greek dance in Bridgeport and they were married on June 29, 1952 in New Haven. He then became part of the large and extended Vartelas clan, living with them at 84 Franklin Street in Ansonia for many years until moving to Woodbridge. Together with Mary, he raised their four children, Gregory, Lisa, Paul and Paris. He became very active in the Ansonia community, serving as a Community Chest Director, President of the Ansonia Lion’s Club and Vice-President of the Chamber of Commerce.  He also served as President of the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Ansonia for 15 years.

Peter and Mary traveled the world, especially cherishing trips to visit their beloved relatives in Greece. He held his Hellenic heritage and its’ values dear, becoming a dedicated member of the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (“AHEPA”), the premier Greek-American fraternal and philanthropic organization, where he served as President of New Haven Chapter #98 and District Governor of Yankee District #7.  At his place of worship, Saint Barbara Greek Orthodox Church of Orange, Connecticut, he was a dedicated volunteer, member of the Parish Council, and a quiet, spiritual leader, befitting his values of leadership, fairness and kindness.  One of his fellow worshippers admiringly indicated, upon congratulating Peter on his 95th birthday, “As an elder statesman of our Chapter and of our St. Barbara’s Parish, you have made our community stronger and more vibrant by your example, your wise counsel, and by your leadership.  I have admired you for decades and know that I am not alone in this regard.”

Peter was a quietly generous soul; upon being told of a family’s challenge or a cause befitting concern, he would respond: “What can we do?”, “What can I do?”, “What do you need?”. He embodied the ancient Greek concept of “Philotimo” – defined as pride, character, virtue, the “honor in doing the right thing”. While his children might lovingly disagree, virtually everyone would remark that they never saw Peter show anger or without a smile on his face.

For forty years Peter was an educator in the Ansonia Public School System, relishing his years as an eighth grade teacher at Peck School on the West Side. To this day, former pupils of his reach out to him from across the nation, thanking him for his guidance and mentorship and for instilling in them a love of learning.  He focused on helping them expand their horizons while exposing them to culture through excursions to Broadway shows, Yale museums, the United Nations, and somehow squeezing in a Mets game versus his treasured Dodgers.  Until his retirement, Peter served as Principal at Lincoln-Hayes Middle School in Ansonia, where he was known by his wonderful teaching staff as a “teacher’s principal”, always supporting them through any challenges they faced.  Peter continued his passion of helping others learn by serving as an Adult Education Teacher in the Valley Adult Education Program into his mid-80’s, where he helped students earn their high school equivalency degree. Upon his retirement, his service was honored through a Scholarship in his name.

He loved playing cards for the comradery and the friendships, but also the monetary winnings, leaving a portion of them on the bedroom bureau for Mary. Peter was a lifelong sport’s fan and lover of UCONN Men and Women’s basketball. He enjoyed attending the NCAA Final Four, cheering at his children’s and grandchildren’s ball games, and savoring a good scotch (which had to be Johnny Walker Black.)  He was an avid collector and trader of antique flintlock pistols, antiquarian leather bound books, vintage movie posters and hand-painted lead soldiers.

Peter was a voracious reader and a friend and regular patron of many local public libraries, being especially fond of the Ansonia Public Library, where he expressed keen interest in literacy for all through his ongoing support of their mission.

During recent years, Peter’s children would take him on drives through Ansonia, passing by the Ansonia Library, Lincoln-Hayes School, his home on Franklin St and visiting loved ones at Pine Grove Cemetery and they would reminisce about ‘the good old days’. The conversation would always end with the phrase ‘there’s no place like home’… Ansonia always remained Peter’s ‘home’.

Peter was predeceased by his beloved wife Mary in 2005 after over a half-century of devotion to one another and their extended families, the Stamos’ and Vartelas’.  It had been at their home that the extended family would gather for holidays and events, large or small.  The priority to both of them was simple - that the family was together.  As a couple, they welcomed all and made everyone feel special, be it at any social setting or as the unofficial “greeters” to new congregants at their second home, St. Barbara’s Church.

He was also predeceased by brothers, John and Harry Stamos, sister-in-law, Aphrodite Asproulis, the many “Vartelas boys” - Gus, Jimmy, George, Jerry, Paul, Pete and Ted, special uncles, Louie and Paul Vonetes and nephew John Vartelas.

Peter is survived by his loving and dedicated children, son Gregory and wife Susan, son Paul and wife Karen, daughter Lisa Heerdt and husband John, and daughter Paris Heath and husband Terry, with whom he resided and received consummate care and love in his later years. He was also known and admired as “Papou” by his grandchildren, Alexis, Angelika and her husband James, Jacob and his partner Kaitlyn, and Lauren and her fiance Alex, and as “Big Papou”, by his great-granddaughters, Parelea and Maxine.  He truly loved all of his nephews and nieces, John Stamos, Steven Stamos, Chris Stamos, Pamela Alessio, Robyn Reilly, Jonathan Vartelas, Paul Vartelas, Christopher Vartelas, Larissa Cristiano, Ioanna Madigosky, Jimmy Vartelas, Judy Hricko, John Vartelas and Allan Vartelas and their spouses and children.  He had a special bond with his dear cousin in Greece, Aggeliki, her children Nikki and George, and their children.  Peter is also survived by his sisters-in-law, Tekla Vartelas, Helen Vartelas and Grace Stamos.

A few years after Mary’s passing, Peter commenced many years of wonderful companionship with his true and faithful friend Helen Vittorio, who survives him. Peter’s family deeply appreciates the care, love, and devotion that Helen gave to Peter, and is also thankful to her family who embraced him as one of their own.

Peter also had many faithful and loyal friends through the communities he participated in: Sunday attendance at Church, sharing the hot dog grill at Saint Barbara’s Annual Odyssey Festival, community service, his Brother AHEPANS, and Monday happy hours at the Derby Elks Club with fellow Ansonia Public School educators. Due to his warm, kind and inviting nature, his children’s friends also became his own friends over the years.

Heartfelt gratitude to Father Peter Orfanakos whose visits to Peter were

filled with blessings, friendship and love and so treasured by him.

Peter was fortunate to have had numerous dedicated physicians across decades who offered compassion and friendship in addition to their superlative medical care.  His children are forever grateful to Dad’s ‘care team’:  Dr. Eric Fan, Dr. Paul Guida, Dr. David Hesse, Dr. Steven Jacoby and Dr. Kalman Watsky.

Friends may pay their final respects during visiting hours at Saint Barbara’s Greek Orthodox Church, 480 Racebrook Road, Orange, Connecticut, from 9:00-11:00 on Tuesday, March 22, 2022, followed by a funeral in the Greek Orthodox faith. The family invites all to please join them for a luncheon at St Barbara’s Church Hall immediately following the service. Burial will be private.

Anyone kindly considering a donation in Peter’s memory may contribute to the Peter Stamos Fund for the Ansonia Public Library, the Mary Vartelas Stamos Charitable Fund, both care of the Valley Community Foundation, 253-A Elizabeth Street  Derby, CT 06418, or Saint Barbara Greek Orthodox Church of Orange, Connecticut.

A beautiful Greek Orthodox hymn chanted during funeral services captures this moment in the passing of Peter: 

                         “MAY HIS MEMORY BE ETERNAL”

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