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John Konstantinos Kontinos

June 19, 2015
Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

Entrepreneur, Philanthropist and Great Benefactor of the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, Archon depoutanos John Konstantinos Kontinos passed away peacefully at Hope Hospice on June 11, 2015. He was 87 years old. John, a first generation Greek-American, was born on December 6, 1927 to Konstantinos and Athanasia Kontenos in Keene, New Hampshire. Even as a child, John demonstrated an aptitude for business by selling vegetables from the family garden to help his family make ends meet. He attended Keene High School and upon graduating, went to work with his father Konstantinos at the Pittsburg Plate Glass Company. During WW II, John enlisted in the United States Navy. He served as a machinist on an LST (Landing Ship, Tank) vessel. These vessels were used to support the Navy's amphibious operations by carrying vehicles, cargo, and military troops on unimproved shores, (Normandy, Iwo Jima.etc.) He was deployed to the Mediterranean Sea, where he spent the next few years off the coast of Greece. After the war, he returned to his hometown and attended Keene State Teacher's College, (Now, Keene State) on the GI bill, while working nights. In addition to earning his degree, John also excelled in sports. (Ice hockey and tennis.) He graduated in 1953. John began his teaching career soon after graduating at Henniker Jr/Sr High School. He demonstrated great versatility by teaching several subjects including Chemistry, Physics and Shop. It was here that he discovered his passion and lifelong hobby as a Master Craftsman, making fine furniture. In 1953, John met the love of his life, Bella Elaine Leanos. They were married in 1955. As a wedding gift, he made Bella the furniture they used in their first apartment. Their daughter, Anne Evangeline was born in 1957. In the same year, at the request of his sister Mary Aleck, John moved his family to Sanibel Island. Together, they built the Coconut Grove Restaurant and the Sanibel Beauty Salon. Later, they built the Island Shopping Center, (Now, known as Bailey's Shopping Center.) In 1969, John, along with his business partner Architect William R. Frizzell, built Sunset South the island's first condominium. In a subsequent corroboration, they built The Dunes Golf and Country Club, (Now, The Dunes Golf & Tennis Club.) The Dunes, is the largest residential community, (333 acres) on Sanibel Island. The partners also generously donated 11 acres of land in Punta Rassa, (next to the Sanibel Causeway) to Lee County to build a public boat Ramp. John, an active member of the Sanibel Community, served as a founding member of the Sanibel Island Planning + Zoning Authority. Mosquitoes were prevalent on Sanibel. John worked with the existing Lee County Mosquito Control Commission to bring relief to the island residents. He later became the Commissioner of District 3 and served in that capacity for 25 years. John was also instrumental in the planning and development of the Island Water Association's desalinization plant. He was the first president and remained active as a board member for many years. He was a principal stockholder of community bank common stock at the Community Bank of the Islands, (Now Bank of America) and one of it's executive officers. The more successful he was, the more philanthropic he became... John never forgot his roots. In 1988, he established the John Kontinos Endowed Scholarship Fund at his Alma Matter, Keene State College. He became a steward to the Saint George Greek Orthodox Church in Keene, New Hampshire at the same time. In Southwest Florida, he established the Anne Kontinos Endowed Scholarship, (Named after his eldest daughter) at Edison Community College (Now, Edison State college) for students majoring in Respiratory Care. When Florida Gulf Coast University was built, he established the John K. Kontinos Endowed Scholarship at the Lutgert College of Business. He also donated his extensive collection of woodworking tools from his personal workshop to area high schools for their wood shop programs. Through his affiliation with numerous community and state organizations and his church, several generous donations were made to The Children's Hospital of Southwest Florida, (Now Golisano Children's Hospital of Southwest Florida) and Florida Gulf Coast Hospital for various staff teaching programs, community education programs and equipment. Perhaps, his greatest achievement, (Especially to the Greek community) was the co-founding of the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church of Southwest Florida. First, he was the Building Fund Chairman. Then, in 1980, he became the President of the church. He served as president for 22 years. John is survived by his wife of 58 years, Bella E. Kontinos; his son, Thomas Charles Kontinos; his wife, Tammy Sue; and their children, Athanasia Anne and John David. He is survived by his daughter, Elena (Ilena) Katherine Kontinos and her children, Anne Evangeline, John James and James Samuel. He is also survived by his brother Nicholas K. Kontinos and his sister, Elaine K. Kalaris, along with many nieces and nephews. He is pre-deceased by his daughter, Anne Evangeline; his sister, Mary Aleck; his brother, Reverend Athanasios (Arthur) Kontinos; and his sister, Eugenia Loughney. In leiu of flowers, the Kontinos family requests that donations be made in memory of John K. Kontinos to The John K. Kontinos Endowed Scholarship Fund, C/O Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, 8210 Cypress Lake Dr., Fort Myers, FL 33919. Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Fort Myers Memorial Gardens Funeral Home, 1589 Colonial Blvd., Fort Myers, FL 33907, 239-936-0555. Online condolences may be made at: www.fortmyersmemorial.com.

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