George Damergis was larger than life. From his smile, to his expressions, to his laughter, everything about him was contagious. On Saint Nicholas Day, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018, he fell asleep in the Lord after having a beautiful time with his family.
His humble beginnings in the Bronx played a huge role in the man that he became. As the son of two Greek immigrants, Michael and Marika, he truly understood the meaning of hard work and dedication. Upon graduating high school, George worked day shifts at Otis Elevator, then made the hour and a half bus commute into Brooklyn to attend night school at Polytechnic Institute. He then would return home after 10 p.m., not to sleep, but to help his younger brother, Johnny, with his calculus homework. That was the kind of man George was — selfless.
His determination to fulfill his parents’ goal of achieving the American Dream epitomized George, as he knew that education was the key to a successful life not only for himself, but also for his family. As he earned his many degrees, a bachelor’s degree in civil and electrical engineering, a master’s degree, and half of his doctorate, George’s ventures ranged from working under Mr. Tom Carvel, whose ice cream he loved, as an engineer, to the Long Island and Metro North Railroad. He worked ceaselessly, and retired, the first of many, at the age of 60 from Metro North Railroad as the Director of Quality Control and Engineering.
However, George soon realized that retirement was not for him and shifted directions, this time into hospitality. After moving to Virginia Beach, George took over the management of his wife’s family’s hotel, The Dunes Oceanfront, with his nephew, Christopher. Regardless of how happy he was running the family business, the railroad still called out to him, resulting in his return to New York during the weekdays to work for Susan and Eli Gilbert in their minority consulting firm. He soon befriended Stanley King, of SLKing and Associates, of Atlanta, and from there, he took on a new role of not just a consultant, but as Uncle George. In Atlanta, he worked hand in hand with MARTA engineers, mentoring and inspiring them. While there, Stanley and his wife, Ziphorah, took George to Dr. Charles Stanley’s church. His love for Christ grew. After 18 years of working in Atlanta and flying home on the weekends, George finally retired for the fourth and final time this past April to be home with his family.
Having children enriched his life tenfold, giving him a higher purpose, and George sacrificed so much for his children. His first child, Michael, was born in 1966 and was a blessing from the start. Having a son, with whom he could bond with over the Yankees, the Jets, and many other things, thrilled George. Michael was the first of four to make him a proud father. Upon the birth of his second child, Anna, in 1971, George melted as only a father would for his daughter. From the onset, she was a Daddy’s Girl.
In 1980, George met the love of his life, Hope Christie. He won her over with his witty humor and that George smile. For 36 years, their love endured and acted as a true testimony of what marriage is for their children. Shortly after getting married, George had his second daughter, Eleni, in 1983; just like her mother, she stole his heart. In 1990, Angela was born; George called her Junior, as you would never see George without little Angela by his side. In each of them, there is a lot of George — they possess his core values of determination, resilience, empathy and honesty. For George, his four children were his life, and he was so proud of them all; his family was paramount. He was their cornerstone, their rock. He supported all of their dreams, working tirelessly to provide for them, not because he had to but because he wanted to.
At his age, he never thought that he would be blessed with grandchildren, or even have the ability to watch his grandchildren grow. However, in 2015, his life was enriched once more by the birth of his first grandson, Andrew, and again in 2016 with the birth of his second grandson, Evan, and once more in 2018 with Niko. He lived for his grandsons. The bond each of them had with their Papouli was second to none. When he entered the room, their eyes lit up, a smile similar to George’s would cross their lips, and they would stop what they were doing and run, or crawl, immediately to him. They would sit in his lap and listen to him sing — something everyone loved.
George Damergis touched the lives of so many people. He was an honorable man, a beacon of hope, friendship, trust and compassion. His love for Christ, for his church, for his country, and for those less fortunate inspired the best in those around him.
He is survived by his wife, Hope; brother, John (Helen); son, Michael; daughters, Anna Damergis, Eleni Babcock (Brian) and Angela Tye (Russell); three grandsons; and many beloved in-laws, cousins, nephews and nieces. George was a believer. He did not fear death.
A Trisagion will be held at 6 p.m., Friday, Dec. 14, at H.D. Oliver Funeral Home, 2002 Laskin Road. Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m., Saturday, Dec. 15, at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, 621 First Colonial Road.
In lieu of flowers, it was George’s wish that donations be made to the Christie/Damergis Scholarship Fund at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church as well as the Hellenic Woman’s Club of the Annunciation Cathedral. Donations may be mailed to either church.
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