John Kazanzides, 90: Loved math, family, art

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FALMOUTH — John Kazanzides died Feb. 28 at his home, surrounded by his loving family.

Kazanzides was born on Nov. 9, 1923 in Kavala, Greece, and grew up in Piraeus, Greece. He loved the sea and recalling watching the boats on the water. He also loved art. As a boy, he helped his father paint beautiful icons for Greek. He was a devoted member of the Greek Orthodox faith.

Kazanzides grew up in poverty, but had an incredible desire for education. School, especially math, was valued greatly by him. “Mathematics is the best way to understand the order that God put in the universe,” he said.

During World War II, Kazanzides became a member of the Greek Resistance and an artillery lieutenant in the Greek civil war against the communist threat from March 1946 to August 1949. Throughout his military service, he remained a devoted mathematician. After the war he taught math before coming to the United States as a graduate student in math and nuclear physics at Columbia University.

While studying and teaching in New York, John met Ruth Vogel in 1959. She was an immigrant from Switzerland who came to the United States to spend some time with family. It was love at first sight. He persuaded her to stay in America with him. They were married in 1960. Soon after, their three children, Peter, Helen, and Doris were born.

Kazanzides moved his family to Scituate, Mass., where he established his career as a hotel systems analyst, working internationally for ITT Sheraton for 22 years. He was a traveler at heart and spent weeks abroad in almost every country in the world.

Before retiring in Miami, Fla., Kazanzides created his own business in the hotel and restaurant industry. After six years of living in Miami, the couple moved to Falmouth, where they helped their daughter, Helen, establish the European Bakery. Kazanzides provided vibrant customer service there for many years. His customers remember him as a humorous and caring man who loved everyone and was loved by everyone. He was a member of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church and a member of the local Greek-American community.

In the years following he became a grandfather to seven grandchildren and cherished the moments he spent with them. Kazanzides retained a strong love for math, art and his home country and remained a teacher at heart. Family, he believed, was the greatest gift God could ever give.

Kazanzides is survived by his wife, Ruth, of Falmouth; son Peter, wife Elisa and children Benjamin and Zoe, of Towson, Md.; daughter Helen, husband Emil Budri and children Nicole and Mary, of Falmouth; and daughter Doris, husband Lee King and children Jacob, Henry and Matthew, of Wilmington, N.C.; his niece and nephew, Maria and Nikos and several cousins, of Piraeus, Greece. He was preceded in death by his brother Stavros and sister Helen.

Services were held March 4. 

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Wounded Warrior Project, P.O. Box 758517, Topeka, KS 66675, or Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, 133 Pleasant St., Portland, ME 04101.