Niles man turning 105
Niles resident Apostle Kalamaris turns 105 years old on March 20. Pictured is some of his Greek Merchant Marines memorabilia. I Stacie Scott~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 15, 2013 10:08AM
Not many people can look forward to celebrating their 105th birthday.
Apostle Kalamaris, who lives in Niles with his daughter, is one of those lucky few. He will reach that amazing milestone on March 20.
Kalamaris was in the Greek Merchant Marines, the Greek Navy and in the American Army during World War II.
“He left his native village in Greece to help out the family,” said Margaret Sfikas, his daughter, about her father.
Kalamaris was the oldest son in his family.
Sfikas said her dad started working in the boiler room and worked his way up to becoming an assistant to the captain. In World War II, Kalamaris was in the American army and was stationed in England. He was a cook in the army and worked until the war was over. After the war, Kalamaris moved to Chicago.
Kalamaris also had a restaurant in Greektown and worked for a Greek painting company for more than 40 years, she said.
Old pictures of Kalamaris in his uniform while serving in the Greek Navy are hung on the walls in his bedroom.
Kalamaris’ granddaughter, Vicki Sfikas, is his caretaker during the day while her mom is working.
“He is the most honest person,” said Sfikas, who said she did not want her grandfather to live in a nursing home. She said her 12-year-old son also would do anything to help take care of his grandpa.
Vicki said that her grandfather helped raise her when she was a kid and her parents were working, so she developed a very special bond with her grandfather. She said her grandfather took her dress shopping and always spoiled her. More importantly, he spent quality time with her and taught her many things.
Kalamaris was instrumental in starting the Greek Society Club at St. Haralambos Greek Orthodox Church in Niles. This group raises money for a church in St. Chios in Greece where he is from and the funds benefit people and families in need. Father Dean from St. Haralambos came to visit him a couple weeks ago.
Vicki said that the club he started decades ago allows her generation to truly appreciate where they came from in Greece.
Although Kalamaris can’t remember certain things on a daily basis, he still can tell stories from his past.
“He still recognizes me, the grandchildren and the great-grandchildren,” shared Margaret.
And even at 100 years old, Kalamaris could still be caught dancing. He was in good health until the past few years when he fell down and hurt his hip.
“At Thanksgiving, he was the life of the party here,” said Margaret.
Patient, loving and caring are all words Margaret uses to describe her dad.
“All his friends are gone, but their children and grandchildren have always said how he’s a good man. Everybody loves him in our little Greek community,” she said.