Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Obituary: Louis Manesiotis Sr. / Ardent supporter, leader of Greek-American community

Jan. 7, 1918 - May 16, 2010

Wednesday, May 19, 2010
By Anthony Fenech, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Louis Manesiotis Sr. was a successful painting contractor and a tireless worker, one who shook hands with past presidents and represented his Greek heritage on high stages.

He was also one of the local Greek-American community's biggest supporters and philanthropists.

Mr. Manesiotis, of Franklin Park, died Sunday in Good Samaritan Hospice in Wexford. He was 92.

Mr. Manesiotis was born and raised on the North Side, where he graduated from Perry High School in 1936. He played football afterward at Duquesne and Niagara universities and received a number of offers from professional football teams after graduating from Niagara.

He served in the Navy from 1942 to 1945. It was service welcomed by a man who arrived in the United States with his parents as an 11-year-old Greek immigrant.

"I think he felt it was an opportunity to repay what this country gave his parents," said his son, Greg Manesiotis, of Franklin Park. "He knew his parents gave him a new start in life and that was the least he could do."

In the Navy, Mr. Manesiotis met his wife of 65 years, Nelle Miller, who died last year.

He also ran his outfit's athletic program. Upon returning to Pittsburgh, he coached American Legion baseball and led local church basketball teams to national championships.

Mr. Manesiotis joined the field of commercial painting in Pittsburgh and started LG Manesiotis & Co., painting schools, hospitals, churches and office buildings.

For many years he served the Greek Orthodox Church in the Pittsburgh area through the Order of AHEPA -- the American Hellenic Education Progressive Association, one of the world's largest Greek-American organizations.

"Louie," as he was affectionately called in the AHEPA community, attended his first national conference in 1949, and two decades later put a permanent mark on the organization by holding one of the highest positions.

A member of AHEPA for 65 years, Mr. Manesiotis served Aristotle's Chapter 34 locally and was elected supreme president in 1969 and 1970.

"In the history of this organization, there have been few individuals like him," said AHEPA executive director Basil Mossaidis. "We are where we are right now in part because of him.

"He was an affluent individual. He had an incredible ability to communicate to people on all levels and supported everybody, from presidents to paupers."

Mr. Manesiotis was also the national general chairman for the fundraising and restoration for St. Basil's Academy in Garrison, N.Y., raising close to $3 million for the Greek Orthodox-run orphanage.

He was invited to the White House and met several past presidents, including Richard M. Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and Harry S. Truman. He also served as master of ceremonies for several congressional banquets.

"Other than his family, that was his No. 1 priority," his son, Louis Manesiotis Jr. of Franklin Park, said of his commitment to Greek causes. "He lived for it."

The Manesiotis family and AHEPA have agreed to establish a scholarship fund in Mr. Manesiotis' memory.

In addition to Greg and Louis Jr., Mr. Manesiotis is survived by sisters Lula Lester of Wenatchee, Wash., and Mary Black of North Huntingdon; and three grandchildren.

Friends will be received from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. today in Simons Funeral Home, 7720 Perry Highway, Ross. A funeral service will be held at noon Thursday in St. George Greek Orthodox Chapel, 8941 Ringeisen Road, McCandless.

Memorial contributions may be made to Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church Building Fund, 302 W. North Ave., Pittsburgh 15212.
Anthony Fenech: or 412-263-1183.

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