Reverend Father Stamatios Ganiaris Obituary
The Very Reverend Father Stamatios Ganiaris
AGE: 86 • Wilmington
Father Stamatios (Stamos) Ganiaris passed away peacefully on Thursday, April 3rd, surrounded by his loving family. He resided in Wilmington, Delaware with his Presbytera Ioanna. He was affectionately known as Fr. Stamos.
Fr. Stamos was born on the island of Chios, Greece in 1928, the third child of Socrates and Eleni Ganiaris. He and his brother Panos and sister Evie had a happy childhood living in view of the Aegean Sea. Stamos and Panos were devoted sea scouts and the family had a deep love of music and literature. His father was a well respected attorney known throughout the island. The family had a strong connection to the Greek Orthodox Church with his father serving for fifty years as a distinguished lay assistant at the Metropolitan Cathedral in Chios. Following an invitation from Archbishop Athenagoras, Stamos came to America in 1948 to attend the Holy Cross Theological School in Brookline, Massachusetts. This was a source of great satisfaction to his father who had declined a similar invitation by the Archbishop twenty years earlier. Fr. Stamos graduated from the Theological School in June 1952 and two months later, married his beloved Ioanna in the Church of the Assumption in Detroit.
His first assignment was to the parish of St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church in Jamaica, NY. While there, he continued his graduate studies at the General Theological Seminary. He was ordained a deacon in 1953 and a priest in 1954. His first parish as a priest was at St. Vasilios Church in Watertown, NY., where he served from 1954-62.
Fr. Stamos then served at Holy Trinity in Wilmington for seventeen years leaving a lasting impact on the community through religious activities for all ages and physical improvements to the church. In the early years, he led the renovation of the beautiful Holy Trinity Church and later he was instrumental with the largest project the parish had undertaken, the building of the Hellenic Community Center. Along with a group of dedicated parishioners, he initiated the annual summer camp at Cape Henlopen in Lewes where children and their parents enjoyed a week of recreational activities along with prayer services. The parish continued to grow with Greek School classes and many social and religious organizations that still thrive today. In recognition of his efforts, Archbishop Iakovos elevated Father to the rank of Oikonomos in 1975 and Protopresbyteros in 1977.
Fr. Stamos left Holy Trinity in 1978 for St. George in Pittsfield, Massachusetts where he served until his retirement. He and Presbytera enjoyed fourteen years in this small but active community in the beautiful Berkshire mountains in New England. Leaving many new friends and parishioners in 1993, they returned to Wilmington to be close to their family and beloved former community. Father continued to faithfully serve every Sunday with the Holy Trinity clergy and led a bible study group until his illness began in April 2013.
In each of his parishes, he was known and loved for his inspiring services, beautiful singing voice and thoughtful sermons. He enjoyed explaining Orthodox practice and ritual to his parishioners and made efforts to convey the meaning to both Greek and English speakers. His most enduring legacy however will be his kindness, humility and compassion. This was a great comfort to his parishioners who always knew they had someone to turn to in times of need.
He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Ioanna, and his five daughters, Helen and husband David Jeffreys of London; Soula and husband Michael Christopher of Hockessin, Delaware; Christina and husband James King of Wilmington; Maria and husband John Luther of Richmond, California; and Angela of Wilmington. Fr. Stamos and Ioanna are blessed with seven grandchildren, Anna, Katie, Evie, Thomas, Alex, William and Matthew and one great grand-daughter, Evie. Fr. Stamos leaves behind a large and loving extended family both in the US and Greece.