Oxi Day Foundation Presents Courage and Service Awards At National WW II Memorial in Washington

(L-R) Lily Bentas, WWII Veteran Tim Bentas and Sister Therese Antone.

The Washington Oxi Day Foundation presented  Courage and Service Awards  at the National WWII Memorial in Washington, DC on October 24, 2019. Vasilios S. Haseotes, founder of Cumberland Farms, was honored posthumously for his service to the country in WWI with the 2019 Oxi Service Award. Alex G. Spanos was also honored posthumously for his service to the country in WWII with the 2019 Oxi Service Award, and John P. Calamos, Sr. was honored for his service to the country in the Vietnam War and to the Greek American community with the 2019 Michael Jaharis Service Award.

Over thirty members of the Haseotes Family attended the presentation, including Haseotes’ daughter and son-in-law Lily and Tim Bentas,  a World War II Veteran. They are members of Leadership 100, where Lily serves on the Board of Trustees. Family friend Sister Therese Antone introduced the Oxi Service Award and Haseotes' great grandson Harry Murphy accepted the Award on behalf of his grandfather. Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island, Ranking Member of the Armed Services Committee, was also on hand to pay tribute to Vasilios' service and the Haseotes family.

An immigrant from Greece, who in 1917 enlisted in the United States Army Infantry and fought under the command of “Black Jack” Pershing in Western Europe, Haseotes used the English he had learned in Constantinople as an interpreter to relay orders to his fellow Greeks fighting beside him, emerging from the forests of Verdun a hero, with shrapnel wounds and the effects of mustard gas. He was decorated by both the French and American governments.

(L-R) Philip Ruhl, former Congressman Darrell Issa, Dean Spanos, Susie Spanos, Michael Spanos.

After the war and several business failures, he acquired a 1110-acre farm in Cumberland, RI, transforming it with his wife and eight children into Cumberland Farms. The Haseotes family revolutionized the region’s milk industry by shifting the emphasis from home delivery to milk stores. By 1962, Cumberland Farms stores were selling much more than milk. Customers could also buy groceries, beverages and health and cosmetic products in stores that stayed open long after other stores had closed for the day. This was the beginning of the convenience store era and the Haseotes family was at its forefront. Celebrating its 80thanniversary this year, the company is the largest convenience store/petroleum marketer in the Northeast with approximately 562 outlets and 9,000 employees.

Jaharis Family Foundation Executive Director Peggy Nicholson presents John P. Calamos, Sr. with the 2019 Michael Jaharis Service Award as His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros looks on.

Haseotes was devoted to his Greek Orthodox Church and a noted philanthropist. He was a founding member of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary parish in Pawtucket, RI and St. George parish in Centerville, MA, an Archon Depoutatos  of the Ecumenical Patriarchate,  and a supporter of St. Basil’s Academy in Garrison, NY.

Alex G. Spanos was a longtime and prominent member of Leadership 100, who passed away  on October 9, 2018 at age 95. Great grandsons Michael Spanos and Philip Ruhl accepted the Award on behalf of their grandfather as Spanos' son  Dean and his wife Susie looked on. Former Congressman Darrell Issa introduced the Award.

As part of the Third Air Force at Drew Field, Spanos was part of bomber aircraft training and locally based antisubmarine patrols of the eastern seaboard to secure the east coast from German submarines. His service complete in February 1946, Staff Sgt. Alex Spanos was discharged from the Army Air Corps and returned home to his family’s business in Stockton.

One of six children born to Greek immigrant parents in South Stockton, California, Spanos had a tough upbringing but was inspired and determined to overcome obstacles in his life. He rose from running a catering truck and  providing catering and housing support services for migrant farm workers, to opening  an apartment construction company. By 1978,  A.G. Spanos Construction was the number one apartment builder in the nation. Spanos’ tireless work ethic built one of the leading real estate and development companies in the industry.

In 1984, Alex next fulfilled a lifelong dream by buying the San Diego Chargers.
As a public figure and NFL owner, he supported hundreds of critical causes, donating and raising millions of dollars to support charities around the country.

Alex Spanos took great pride in his Hellenic heritage and Orthodox faith. Whenever he was called upon to help with the Church, the Greek American community or even the country of Greece, he wholeheartedly contributed his resources and time.

In 2008, the President of the Republic of Greece, Mr. Karolos Papoulias, awarded Spanos the Medal of the Commander of the Order of Honor. The honor came in recognition of his many contributions to the birthplace of his parents.

The Michael Jaharis Service Award presented to John P. Calamos, a prominent member of Leadership 100, recognizes the dedicated military service and many contributions, in the spirit of Michael Jaharis, to the Greek American community, the country and to the world. Jaharis was a Founder of Leadership 100.

Jaharis Family Foundation Executive Director Peggy Nicholson introduced the Award. Calamos was joined by his wife Mae, as well as members of his Calamos Investments team and several friends from the Chicago area.

John P. Calamos, Sr. joined the United States Air Force through the Illinois Tech ROTC program, earning his commission in 1963. In 1965, he went on active duty and pilot training in Texas. He was assigned to fly B-52s while stationed at Beale AFB in California on Airborne Alert. By 1968, he was ordered to Vietnam to serve as a Forward Air Controller (FAC), assigned to the 20thTASS at Da Nang. Captain Calamos was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross by President Nixon for “extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight under heavy hostile attack near Thuong Duc Special Forces Camp in Southeast Asia on 28 September 1968.” His Air Force career encompassed 5 years of active duty and 12 years in the Reserves flying A-37 jet fighters. He retired a Major.

Calamos is Chairman and Chief Investment Officer of Calamos Investments, a firm he founded in 1977. With origins as an institutional convertible bond manager, the firm has grown into a global asset management firm with institutional and individual clients worldwide. Headquartered in the Chicago metropolitan area the firm also has offices in London, New York, San Francisco and Miami.

A son of Greek immigrants, Mr. Calamos is an active philanthropist supporting educational institutions and Hellenic organizations. He serves as Chairman of the National Hellenic Museum in Chicago. In addition, he is a supporting member of FAITH (where he first met Michael Jaharis), National Hellenic Society, Leadership 100 and The Hellenic Initiative. He serves as an Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate with the Order of St. Andrew the Apostle.

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