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George Tom Karabatsos

August 25, 1932 January 1, 2018
George Tom Karabatsos
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Obituary for George Tom Karabatsos

As I struggled to write an obituary for my dad, I recalled a blog I posted as a happy birthday to him over 10 years ago. As I re-read it, there is not much I would change or omit. Here's to you, daddy. Final graduation: January 1, 2018.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

OPA!

Today my father celebrates 73 years on this earth. Happy Birthday, Dadeo!
My daddy is an amazing man, but that word seems completely inadequate. But what word would be? A friend of mine said, "Maybe what the heart feels most keenly can’t be pressed neatly into language." That's how I feel. But nonetheless, let me try to tell you a little about him.

Let me tell you how he was the first from his family EVER to graduate college (and one of the few to graduate high school (first in his class I might add)... and even go on to complete a Master's Degree. The last son of Greek immigrant parents, he had to work his way from the "wrong side of the tracks" through the Navy (for a college scholarship) to being vice-president of an oil corporation.

He's a child of the depression but there's nothing depressing in his memories of his childhood. I love the way he fondly recollects fun times, sad events, and still moments with his family. He had a healthy fear of his father and a tender softness with his mother (both of whom I only know through his stories).

I, too, have good memories of my childhood. I remember how being outside at night and just seeing the red glow from the end of his cigarette told me safety was just in the distance. I not only remember him being there but also how important it was to him to be there at all my recitals, concerts, games, half-time shows, and other celebrations... and that made me feel the most special!! For that I am forever grateful. He was always supportive of my dreams, as lofty as they could be. And that showed me the value of having dreams.

Oh how I've always loved just to hang around with him. My dad has a fun sense about him. I love his tenderness which he often tries to hide under a facade of the tough guy image of his generation. But he knows with one look from me that he can't get away with it and his shy smile tells me it’s ok anyway. I love the way he can get tickled and starts giggling so much he starts tearing up. I also love the way he can strike up a conversation with virtually anyone. It never ceases to amaze me how he can always find common ground with someone and I'm over and over again stunned by how much he knows. I love that he calls me with newspaper details that he knows I would want to know and saves those State's quarters for me without me having to ask. The best thing I love is the way I'm sure he's always going to say, "I love you" before we depart.

And let me speak of his generosity. I think the most generous people are ones that had nothing to begin with. It goes without saying that he literally would give his last dollar to his child (and this child is grateful), but I'm humbled by the number of times and the extravagant ways he's gone to offer a friend or a stranger a heaping helping hand.

He's an excellent teacher. He's taught me so much. How to throw a ball (he is why I can throw a football spiral so well), how to tell a joke, how to do math (he's a whiz), how to play cards, how to read a map, how to dance, and how to fix about anything that's broken. True story on my father's teaching ability... One day (probably about 1995), I was in a Texaco training class and an older gentleman was sitting next to me. I noticed he kept staring at my name tag and then looking at me, then staring at my name tag and then glancing back at me. I got a little scared. Then he said, "Karabatsos, that's an interesting name... is it your married name" (now, I was really freaked out). I said, "No, it's my daddy's name". Then he said, "Is your father George Karabatsos?" "Yes, he is". Then you won't believe this, but he said, "Well, your father was the graduate teaching assistant in my first-year geology class at the University of Nebraska in 1955 and I think the best one I had". WOW!!! The man remembered my father 40 years later!!!

But mostly he taught me to be the best person I could be. And the value of family as priority. He taught me that family was so much more important than the world thought it was. It was important to stick with them through thick and thin and to be there for each other. Life has not been easy for him, but he has been easy to be with. Together, we've been through the loss of my sister and other horrible tragedies. But it's been a little more bearable because we've been through it together.

My dad doesn't move as fast now as he used to and sometimes he tells me the same story over again, but to me, my dad will always be the Greek titan I remember as my hero. My sister said it best when she wrote in a card to him years ago, "Dad, you've been an Olympic 10.0 dad... thanks!"

I love you, daddy. And I thank God for you.

All for now,
Lisa


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