Zacharias “Jack” Xenakes passed away peacefully in his sleep, December 25, 2016, after enjoying chocolate ice cream with his daughter Andrea, and son-in-law John, on Christmas Eve.
Born August 21, 1933, to the late Constantine (Gus) and Vasiliki (Bessie) Xenakes, Jack was the second oldest of 4 siblings that shared a three-story home on Pemberton St, with two other families of aunts and uncles and cousins; their doors were always open. His entertaining stories of those days are priceless memories.
In 1951 he was drafted. He joined the USAF simply because it was the shortest line to navigate during a lunch break. He became a tail gunner for the Boeing B-50A Superfortress and was nicknamed “Greek.” He met a WAF by the name of Pamela Kent Clark. He bought her a Dr. Pepper. She was taller than him. On July 5, 1952, the Greek married Pamela. He adored her and held her close for the next 44 years. Four months later Jack bailed from his plane over the Arizona desert, when the engine caught fire. He parachuted and landed safely on a cactus (OUCH). Later, while getting cacti plucked from his backside in the ER, he gets a call from Pam. They’re having a baby! Then life happens. It fast forwards!
Now, suddenly I’m writing his obituary. I’m that baby; my name is Andrea. I remember when my father first started working for the Phila. Water Dept as a Surveyor crewman in 1964. Always wanting to know and do more, he took night courses and studied endlessly to be better in life. He retired in 1996 as a Surveyor III in Projects control. He was a brilliant man. He had a penchant for quoting ancient proverbs, his favorite, in Greek, meant “We Shall OVERCOME”. He loved making detailed balsa wood WWII plane models… I still have three he made for me from 22 years ago.
He kept his promises! He loved and believed in family. He was a true friend. He was my BEST friend. He didn’t mince words. He shared a sense of humor that was rampant among his siblings and cousins. Often I’d watch as he would magically make mom laugh to the point of tears. He’d call her his “straight man” in life. They were poetry in motion together. He loved life and his many lifelong friends. He would want all of us to celebrate our memories of good times spent together with him. Appreciate the life ahead of you.
In 2012, Dad moved to Virginia Beach where he lived like a king with me and my husband, John. We were a family, together. It was a wonderful last dance. Also left to celebrate his life are his pride and joy granddaughters Justin and Calysta Xenakes, their mother Eileen Xenakes, and 2 adorable, great grand-daughters that he met for the first time this past July, his big sister Zenobia (Jeanne) Fey, who dad always said was the best big sister any brother could hope for, his many nieces and nephews who made him so proud to be their Uncle Jack, and many cousins and friends who still remember those days on Pemberton St. He was predeceased by his wife, Pam, his parents Gus and Bessie, and two youngest brothers Napoleon and Pierre Xenakes.
A graveside service will be held at Fernwood Cemetery Saturday, April 8, 2017, at 1:00 pm for those wishing to attend.