The mission of Chapter Helios is to continue to grow and spread awareness of our organization, our island and our Brotherhood. We are all Icarian or of Icarian decent and must remain an organized group with new and young members joining frequently to keep Chapter Helios alive and active.
The History of Chapter Helios #19
Many believe that the first Greek person to set foot in America was Theodoros Greco, who landed in Pinellas County, Florida as a member of a Spanish sailing expedition in 1528.
The first colony of Greeks in America landed at St. Augustine, Florida on June 26, 1768, which is commemorated today by the beautiful St. Photios National Greek Shrine.
The first known Icarians to colonize Florida were the Costas Tsourakis family, who came to Tarpon Springs from Fourni in 1905. Costa and his wife, Maria, had eight children. Their first daughter, Loula, was born there in 1906. A son, George, born in 1924, served as City Commissioner from 1963-67, and Mayor of Tarpon Springs from 1968-74, and again from
1982-84. A daughter, Clara, was married to Dr. Constantine George, and their son, George, would be enthroned as His Eminence Archbishop Spyridon of America in 1997.
The second Icarian foothold was established in Plant City with the arrival of Constantinos Glaros in 1911, followed soon by his three brothers, all of whom married and raised families there. The first born to Constantinos and his wife Ourania (Lakios) was John in 1920. In the 1950’s, John owned the Dixie Restaurant in Plant City. Later he served as Commissioner and Mayor of Plant City, then went on to serve as a member of the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority, and as a County Commissioner. After the death of his wife Dorothy (Cribbs), he became a lay priest and became affectionately known in the community as Father John.
During the next 30-40 yrs other Icarians gradually migrated to Tarpon Springs, Plant City, Tampa, Bradenton, and Anna Maria. Zachariah Economou settled in the Bradenton area around 1938. He was married to Kalliope (Mougianis) and during the 1940’s he owned a bar in Plant City. The influx of Icarians in the Clearwater area began with the arrival of Mike Adams, a restaurateur from Pittsburgh, and his wife Mary in 1965. They owned and operated the Pixie Restaurant on U.S Hwy 19.
The first semi-official gathering of Icarians in Florida was a picnic held in Tarpon Springs on Easter Sunday, April 14, 1974. The idea of organizing an official Chapter of the Pan-Icarian Brotherhood was discussed. Honorary Icarian Reverend Father Constantine Glynos proffered the first dollar on behalf of the effort, and a treasury for the future Chapter was begun.
Two years later, on February 9, 1976, 26 Icarians from all the surrounding communities met at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Clearwater to establish Helios Chapter. The first elected officers of this newly organized group were President- Peter Tripodis, Vice President- George Tsourakis, Secretary- Gus Contis, and Treasurer, Mary Tsambis. The Board of Directors consisted of Steve Binikos, Father John Glaros, Sam Moraitis, Diamond Pardos, and Gus Stefanadis.
Other Icarian families that were in the area at the time that Helios Chapter was established, or who arrived shortly thereafter, include Nick and Irene Achidafty of Detroit, Nick and Athena Binikos of Warren, Mike and Dorothy Cherouvis of Port Jefferson, Chris and Stamatoula Collaros of Cleveland, Jack and Toula Conzaman of Cleveland, Gus and Bessie Conzaman of Youngstown, John and Martha Glaros of Cleveland, Nick and Clara Kavourias of Cleveland, Philip and Athena Lacios of New Jersey, Angelo and Daphne Loizos of San Francisco, Nick and Mollie Mavrolas of Cleveland, Callie Mastrogeorge of Tarpon Springs, Gus and Elizabeth Mavronicolas of New York, Evangeline and her son Chris Mavros of Chicago, John and Hazel Pamphilis of Detroit, Bill and Argie Pastis of Long Island, Tom and Anna Petchakos, and Peter and Anita Petchakos of Chicago, Louis and Stella Thomas of Cleveland, Terry and Anna Tsantes of Warren, Philip and Julie Vassilaros of New York, and Tony and Despina Zarnas of Cleveland.
For several years the members met at various locations, including Pete and Anita Petchakos’ Carib Coffee Shop on Cleveland St. ( now the site of a Fifth Third Bank), the Hungry Eye Restaurant (later called the Expo) on Hercules Ave., and the former Clearwater Beach Marina. On July 17, 1983 at a picnic celebration for Agias Marinas at Tarpon’s Howard Park, the dream of owning their own Chapter home became a reality as Helios members voted to purchase a former community clubhouse building on Pinehurst Dr. in Dunedin, and make it their Leski.
The renovated clubhouse served the Chapter well for many years. But sadly, in 2009, there was an electrical fire, and the building was a total loss. Fortunately no one was in the building at the time, so there were no injuries. The members decided to rebuild, and commenced to start raising the needed funds. The rebuilding efforts were spearheaded by K.C. “Gus” Tsambis and John Sakoutis. Many generous individuals stepped forward to contribute money and labor. Helios members were able to move into their new building in 2013, and they are on their way to paying off the debt.
Members of Helios are proud the Chapter’s accomplishments. Helios currently has over 150 paid members, making it one of the largest Chapters in the Brotherhood.
Helios Chapter is the home of several Past Supreme Presidents: Terry Tsantes-1954, Peter Tripodis- 1960, Nick Achidafty-1971, Jack Conzaman- 1975-76, Emanuel “Pete” Petchakos- 1987-88, Gus Stefanadis-1991-93, who also served as Past Chairman of the Foundation-1997-2001, John Sakoutis-1997-1999, Dr. Stanton Tripodis-2001-2003, and Sonja Stefanadis-2009-2010.
Helios Chapter is also are very proud to be the home of all of the Past Editors of IKARIA Magazine: Nick Achidafty- 1979-93, Stella Pastis Thomas- 1993-2003, Niki Plutis - 2003-2013, and Mary Deschamps (daughter of Nick and Irene Achidafty)-2013 to present.
Several Helios members have endowed memorial scholarships through the Foundation: the James Chapler Scholarship by the Chris and Stamatoula Collaros family, the Jack C. Conzaman Scholarship by the Conzaman family, the George Glaros Scholarship by Francis Glaros, the Constantine Mavronicolas Scholarship by the Mavronicolas family, the Elizabeth and George Pastis Scholarship by Stella Pastis Thomas and Dororthy Martinos, and the Ava Lee Petchakos Scholarship and the Emanuel and Anita Petchakos Scholarship by the Petchakos family.
Helios Chapter has hosted Supreme Conventions in 1979, 1985 (remember Elena anyone?), 1992, 2006, and now in 2014.
The members of Helios plan to keep working to make the Chapter better and stronger for years to come.
Originally contributed by PSP Emanuel “Pete” Petchakos,
and PSP Peter Tripodis, updated by PSP Dr. Stanton Tripodis.