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International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

From Greece to NYC, the uphill battle of a beautiful life

From Greece to NYC, the uphill battle of a beautiful life
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Photo Creds: Nopi Tastsidis

After a hard day’s work, Konstantino Tsatsidis was exhausted. All he wanted to do was fall asleep. But as soon as he turned off his light, his young daughter would sneak into his room and crawl into his bed. But Konstantino did not get mad. He did not even get irritated, or tell her to leave. Instead, he would sit with her in his bed and they would do Eskimo kisses with their noses.

 One thing we know for sure, Konstantino Tastsidis’s love for his family allowed him to resurrect the American dream through his hard work, his dedication, and his dream of giving them a better chance in life.

 Friends and family gathered last month in a small church in Pennsylvania to reflect lessons of humility and sacrifice as a way of commemorating the long and full life of Konstantino, dead at the age of 86.

 Born on May 18, 1929 in a little town off the coast of Greece, Konstantino was born into a farming family. Growing up, he tirelessly worked in the fields, helping his father harvest crops to make money and support their family. Konstantino had to leave school after graduating from 5th grade to work side by side with his father. At 30 years of age, his parents arranged his marriage to a young Greek girl named Anthoula, and in a few years, they had two little girls, Evanthia and Nopi.

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Konstantino’s family had a hard life in Greece. They had no running hot water, no television, no refrigerator, and no washing machine. He would work to exhaustion and the reward was little to no money. “We were not even middle class, more like just high [class] poor”, Nopi said. This was partly because Greece was in economic shambles during the 1970s. The oil crisis in the Middle East triggered hyperinflation and significantly slowed down Greece’s economy. Prices skyrocketed and there were even food shortages.

 Being the family man that he was, Konstantino wanted to give his daughters opportunities that he never had. At the same time, he wanted to give his ageing parents the quality of life that they deserved. With those goals in mind, he sought out to realize the American Dream.

 At the age of 46, Konstantino left the only place he knew as home. Packing all their belongings, he, along with his young wife and two girls, ventured into the unknown, leaving his parents and friends behind. His brother-in-law sponsored him so that he could come into U.S. legally and later on became a U.S. citizen. While their new railway apartment in New York City still had no television, there was running hot water. This was a luxury for them.


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Konstantino’s family picture before leaving Greece. Photo Credits: Nopi Tsatsidis


Not knowing how to speak the language, Konstantino took any job he could find and finally got a job as a maintenance man at the Irving Trust Company in New York City, now known as the Bank of New York. “He was able to work at one of the biggest banks in the world totally based on his ability to work,” said Nopi. He worked an eight-hour shift from four o’clock in the afternoon to midnight, Monday through Friday, leaving no time for family dinners.

 However, all his hard work and sacrifices paid off. As he never received any high level education, he wanted to make sure that he gave Nopi and Evanthia the gift of knowledge: the most priceless gift that no one can take away.

 Even with his small salary, he started saving money and, within a year, he was able to send his two daughters to a private school and later to college at Brooklyn State and Staten Island University, where Nopi graduated with a degree in computer science.

 “He was so proud of [Evanthia and Nopi]. He was proud not about what he accomplished, but the opportunity he gave us to become accomplished. In his mind, he succeeded in life by seeing us succeed.” Nopi said.

 Konstantino was simply a happy man. “I remember him sitting outside [of his house] and whenever I talked to him, all he did was smile. And then I smiled,” a family friend said. When asked to describe his personality, she simply responded: “[He was] just a really good guy.”

 He did not need materialistic things to make him happy. All he needed was the feeling that he did all he could to support his family. His personality was a complete depiction of all Christian values: he did not gossip and he was not greedy. He was humble and always thought of ways to help those less fortunate, Evanthia said.

 As 2016 came around the corner, Konstantino’s health severely deteriorated. He became weak and sick. And then he became weaker and sicker. “He was ready to die,” Nopi said. February came along and Konstantino suffered from a stroke. Laying in his deathbed, he told his family that he loved them, Nopi said. That night, he passed away in peace, presumably with no regrets.

Konstantino Tsatsidis will be an everlasting inspiration to the people who knew him. He was living proof that no matter one’s background, success is always a possibility through drive and hard work. He came from nothing, and through perseverance in an uphill battle he made something of himself against all odds. He was a simple man, but his heart was huge. He will be dearly missed by all who knew and loved him.


By Marianna  Ioannou

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