H.M. Patterson & Son-Oglethorpe Hill Chapel
4550 Peachtree Road Ne
Atlanta, GA 30319
(404) 261-3510
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Johnny Economy

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JOHNNY N. ECONOMY A prominent philanthropist and leader of the Greek-American and Greek Orthodox communities and founder/president of the Atlanta-based graphic design and apparel company Zomma Enterprises, Inc., died Sunday at his home of a heart attack. He was 57. Economy was long active in many Hellenic causes and was an international leader in the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA), the largest and oldest American-based, Greek heritage grassroots membership organization founded in Atlanta on July 26, 1922. In 2000-2001, he served AHEPA as its International President, the highest office in the organization. He also served on its Board of Directors and in many other national, regional and local levels, including serving as a founding Director of AHEPA One, Inc. which built and manages a senior citizens housing complex in DeKalb County. With the blessings of the governments of the United States, Greece, Cyprus and Turkey, Johnny Economy lead a variety of track two diplomatic missions in the Balkans, including negotiations with top Turkish, Greek and Cypriot governmental officials to seek the re-opening of the Greek Orthodox Theological seminary at Halki and a just and equitable resolution to the invasion and continued occupation of the country of Cyprus. Economy also lead a small group through the demilitarized UN patrolled "green zone" into the Turkish militarily occupied territory in the north of Cyprus where he personally delivered a cross given to him by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I to the lone Greek Orthodox priest who remained behind in the occupied territory to minister to his enclaved flock. As President of the AHEPA Centennial Foundation, Inc., Economy was the driving force behind the Tribute to Olympism sculpture in Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Park to commemorate the centennial anniversary of the Olympic Games. The gift from the Greek communities of the world to Atlanta and the Olympic movement absorbed shrapnel from the Atlanta bombing saving lives. Also, under the Foundation's direction, Economy oversaw the donation of the George C. Marshall Statue on the grounds of the American Embassy in Athens, Greece in October 2000, and helped promote the Discobolus sculpture in Sydney, Australia for the 2000 Summer Olympic Games. Johnny also served on the Board of the Hellenic Cultural Foundation that completed the trilogy of Olympic public art projects, KYKLOS - Circle of Glory, in the new Olympic Stadium in Athens Greece for the 2004 Summer Olympic Games. In 2001, His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I bestowed the honor of Megas Archon of the Order of St. Andrew the Apostle upon Economy, the highest award that can be bestowed on a Greek Orthodox layman, in recognition of his many philanthropic endeavors and service to the church. In addition, Johnny served on both the Archdiocesan Council and Metropolis Council of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Atlanta. He also served the Board of Trustees of the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation in Atlanta, where he was a lifelong member. Economy was an avid car enthusiast and could often be seen driving around town in his red 1936 Ford three-window coupe affectionately named "Rita." He was also a proud member of the North Fulton Special Choir and the North Fulton Alumni Choir under the direction of the late Robert Lowrence. A native Atlantan, Economy was the son of Greek immigrants, Efstathios Economopoulos of Messinia, Greece, and Evthoxia Petkas Economopoulos of Peramos, Asia Minor. He is survived by his loving wife of 36 years, Athena, brother Othon and sister-in-law Alice; brother-in-law George Gavalas and wife Vicki; and many nephews and nieces and cousins. In addition, Johnny served as a father figure and role model to many of the young men and women in Atlanta and other Greek Orthodox communities. A Prayer Service will be held Thursday, January 6, 2004, 7 p.m., at H. M. Patterson & Son -Oglethorpe Hill Funeral Home, 4550 Peachtree Road, N.E., Atlanta, Georgia, 30319. Funeral Services will be held Friday, January 7, 2004, 11 a.m., at Annunciation Cathedral, 2500 Clairmont Rd., N.E., Atlanta, Ga., 30329, presided by His Eminence Metropolitan Alexios. In lieu of flowers the family requests that donations be made to either: (a) AHEPA Chapter 1 Educational Fund, Inc. - Johnny Economy Scholarship c/o 7055 Northgreen Drive, Atlanta, Georgia 30328-1453; or (b) Johnny Economy Project Faith Annunciation Cathedral Fund c/o 2500 Clairmont Rd., N.E., Atlanta, Ga., 30329. H. M. Patterson & Son Oglethorpe Hill, (404) 261-3510.
Published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution from Jan. 5 to Jan. 6, 2005
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