I recently lost my father. I know that everyone’s father is a hero in their own right. Mine however, always felt like a legend. He was the most inspiring man I had ever met. Yet of course what I miss most about him was simply the fact that he was my dad. I miss him retelling stories that I had heard hundreds of times over in his thick Greek accent. I miss his familiar and comforting laughter from the time I was a little girl. I miss our conversations that gracefully hoped from business ideas, sciences, history, music and always found itself in the deepest most sincere echoing laughter that he always prompted us into with his ever present curiosity about his grandchildren.
Daddy grew up in a beautiful little seaside town named Patras. Strong on culture, warm hearts, and flavor filled fresh foods. After serving in the Greek Army, he left Greece in his late teens with an American Dream. The type of dream that consists of working hard, and actually getting to live out your wildest dreams. No plan or idea on how that was going to happen, except that he would invest himself entirely into some sort of business when he got here.
That was enough for him to realize that this was his calling. He found an investor, sold everything he had, and headed to East Africa. He had many wins and many losses, but he had found his passion. Through the late 70’s, 80’s, & 90’s he went on multiple successful gemstone expeditions. Some that he even took us kids along for. Deep in the East African Jungle, he would find semi precious and precious gemstones. He eventually specialized in rubies and Tanzanites. Not long after, he opened up a factory in Thailand for cut & polish. Things were exactly as he planned. Our lives were filled with spontaneous adventures of travels, family, great friends, good food, and sport.
My father was a living breathing model of the Greek culture of hospitality that he was raised in. Yet there was a beautiful eccentricity that he carried with him from savoring almost every corner of this world.
Whether he was was knee deep in mud playing Tribal in the jungle, hanging out in our kitchen with our amazing Cook Paulo, his best bud, negotiating prices in an all business high rise, or at a five star hotel with a potential investor. The mood always felt like home. Consisting of his laughter, humility and his incredible stories, always bridging drastically different worlds together to create the most multifaceted human being I have ever encountered. I have yet to meet another person who regards the whole world as fondly, as knowledgeable and as familiar as he did his hometown, like Daddy, and it all started with his American Dream.
He taught Gemology at the University of Athens in his spare time. He was an official translator for multiple languages for the Olympic Games in Athens in 2004. Until finally, on January 1st 2015. A sunny beautiful afternoon fit for a stroll. Daddy walked out of his childhood home, wished his long time neighbor a great big “Happy New Year!” and in that moment had a heart attack. Those were his last words. He was surrounded immediately by family and friends. At 1:15pm of 1/1/15, my hero, Apostolos Angelos Lekkas, became my legend. It always amazes me that my father, a Lion of a Man started out as an immigrant teenager with an American Dream. There have been so many people that have since then come to me sharing stories of how much he inspired them to live out their American Dream. I am so proud of him and everything that he instilled in my brothers and I. I hope that some day my own children will have a tale to tell about this man that inspired and shaped so much of who I am.