John Cakouros, 89: Longtime teacher, coach, gave to his community

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BATH — John Cakouros, 89, died Sept. 5 at Winship Green Nursing Home, in Bath.

He was born in Brooklyn, New York, on March 12, 1925, the son of Cleomenes and Kay Cakouros. He attended Brooklyn schools, and graduated from Boys High School in 1943.

During World War II, Cakouros was inducted into the U.S. Army and fought in France. On a scouting party for which he volunteered, he was seriously wounded, narrowly escaped capture, and then spent 11 months recovering in British and American hospitals. He was awarded a Purple Heart, and also received a Bronze Star.

Cakouros attended Farleigh Dickinson College on the GI Bill. He then worked at the Stockyard Inn in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where he met his future wife, Jeanette Kinney. Eleven months later, on April 25, 1954, they were married in her home town of Dover-Foxcroft.

The couple moved to Washington, D.C., where Cakouros studied business administration at George Washington University. One morning, after reading a newspaper story about a boy who had shot his teacher, Cakouros said, “I think I can help boys like that!” He immediately changed his major at the university to education.

The couple later moved to Bath, making a home for a nephew, two nieces and two adopted baby boys. For a total of 25 years, Cakouros taught eighth-grade math and ninth-grade English at Bath Junior High School. In addition to teaching, Cakouros coached cross country and track, and founded the Bath Invitational meet, which is still held.

Cakouros and his family eventually moved to North Woolwich, where they lived in a farmhouse surrounded by 74 acres of land on Thwings Point. Not wishing the land to be developed, they later sold it to The Nature Conservancy.

Cakouros reluctantly retired from teaching and went to work at the Bath Post Office for 11 years. But he also served as a substitute teacher in schools from Dresden to Freeport, and then worked exclusively at Brunswick High School, teaching almost any subject that was needed.

In his retirement, he raised money to save Bath Junior High’s cross country program from being canceled. Morse High School established the John Cakouros Cross Country Award for the outstanding cross country runner each year.

Cakouros also raised funds to send high school students to academic and sports summer camps, and to create a plaque at the junior high honoring former students who had been killed in the Vietnam War. Often, his fundraising was matched by the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled Veterans of America, the Elks Club and the American Legion. The lives of many students were changed through his work.

Cakouros was a trustee of the Patten Free Library and a library corporator, and served on the boards of the YMCA and Elmhurst Inc. He was also active in the Bath United Church of Christ, Congregational.

Cakouros contributed to the community of Woolwich as well, serving on the school board for 12 years. He also was Woolwich health officer, a position he used to get children out of substandard living conditions.

He is predeceased by his parents; two sisters, Helen Vlassis and Mary Cakouros; a sister-in-law, Eleanor Cakouros; a brother-in-law, Herbert Flowers; and a very special nephew, Andrew C. Kinney.

Survivors include his wife of 60 years, Jeanette K. Cakouros, of Brunswick; brother, Steve Cakouros, of Avon, Connecticut; son, Craig Cakouros, and wife Michelle and their son Garen, of Limerick; son, Jason Cakouros, and wife Eileen and their children Anna and Drew, of Milton, Massachusetts; niece, Leslie Kinney Jandreau, of Keswick, Ontario, and companion Andre Dupuis; niece, Dawn Kinney Garrott and husband Riley, Marysville, Ohio; Cheryl Kinney, widow of Andrew Kinney, of Windham; nephew, Michael Kinney, and wife Jennifer, of Bath; nephew, Adam Kinney, of Windham; nephew, Reed Kinney and wife Jennifer, of Topsham; niece, Randa Rineer, and husband Mark, of Brunswick; niece, Kathy Spackman, and husband Jeff, of Castle Rock, Colorado; and niece, Tracy Cakouros, and husband Brian Hillfrank, of Avon, Connecticut.

Visiting hours will be held from 2-4 p.m. and from 6-8 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 12, at Daigle Funeral Home, 819 High St., Bath. A funeral will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 13, at the Bath Middle School, 6 Old Brunswick Road, Bath. Burial will follow at Riverside Cemetery in Woolwich.

Memorial donations may be made to CHANS Home Health Care, in Brunswick; Winship Green, in Bath; Curtis Memorial Library, in Brunswick; or the Patten Free Library, in Bath.

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