James G. Priovolos Christie, 79, departed this life on Tuesday, November 26, 2013 surrounded by his loving family.|
Mr. Christie was born in the small village of Merkovouni outside of Tripolis, Greece in 1934. He was raised in a two room wooden and stone house before leaving there for a better life in America at the age of 19. Upon arriving in Houston, he worked in a café and taught himself English. Using the Houston newspaper, he compared the English words to his Greek dictionary. James was affectionately known by his friends as "Jim".
In 1965, Jim, and his cousin Steve, met Mr. Theodore Christie where he started his journey as a restauranteur with the oldest restaurant in Houston. Christie's Seafood & Steaks has been a Gulf Coast Institution since 1917. Mr. Theodore Christie, who did not have children, was also Greek. He was the innovator of the fish sandwich and the unique preparation of Gulf Coast fried shrimp. Theodore and Jim's father-son relationship was cemented when Theodore gave Jim his last name.
In 1968, Jim married his beautiful wife Alexandra who was also from the same village in Greece. Together, they had 5 children-George, Kathy, Maria, Roula and Terry.
In the late 60's, Christie's Seafood and Steaks was located in the Medical Center across from St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital. Jim volunteered as a translator for heart patients under Dr. Denton Cooley and Dr. Michael DeBakey's care. For 15 years, Jim established a life long relationship with Dr. Cooley. He helped countless patients get through the pre and post-op days of open-heart surgery in the ICU. It was a passion of his to help these patients have an understanding of the expectation of the heart surgery process. Jim was also passionate to serve these families as his guests at Christie's so they wouldn't have to worry about finding a good meal and even hosted some of these families in his own home.
Jim gave many immigrants new to Houston their first job at Christie's Seafood and Steaks. Over the years, these former employees have fondly returned to visit with the kind hearted man who first employed them.
In the last 10 years, Jim Christie captured the hearts of Houstonians as "Papa Love" on his daughter's morning radio program, "The Roula and Ryan Show" on 104.1 KRBE FM. During his on-air segments, he would dish out life advice based on his very traditional values with his very distinct voice and delivery.
James Christie is considered one of the founding fathers of the Houston Restaurant scene. He has have served generations of families. Truly, his great love was cooking for his own family and for the masses. Jim was a PROUD American. He loved his church, being a father and a grandfather. He was a member of both Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral and St. Basil The Great Greek Orthodox Church and was a member of the Brotherhood of the Order of AHEPA.
Jim Christie would greet you with the most infectious smile and was always ready to tell you a joke. His spirit and his soul will be missed by those near him, his family from all over the world and those whose lives he changed for the better.
Jim never imagined that a young, poor boy from a tiny village in Greece could come to America and own his own business where he served thousands of patrons who became his friends. He was deeply humbled that included such dignitaries as Secretary of State James Baker, President George H. W. Bush, First Lady Barbara Bush along with several Consulates and Mayors.
Mr. Christie found himself to be the very patient he helped all those years ago as he scheduled open heart surgery at St. Luke's to better his health. Complications proved too much and-surrounded by his entire family's love-departed this life in the very hospital where his children were born and he helped so many. The Christie Family would like to thank all the doctors, nurses and staff of St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital for their care of Jim Christie. It is their hope that through Jim, the team learned something new to aid in the care of future patients.
May His Memory Be Eternal.
Jim is survived by his wife of 45 years, Alexandra. His son George, daughter-in-law Mia Kaldis Christie, daughter Kathy, son-in-law Marko Dasigenis, daughter Maria, daughter Roula, son-in-law Tasos Kostas and son Terry. His 5 granchildren- Dimitri, Panayiotis, Evangelia, Alexandra and Eleni also mourn the loss of their "Papou Jimmy".
Jim is also survived by his sister Zoe Sideris of Chicago, Illinois, his brother Pete Priovolos of Houston, his sister Presvytera Kostantina Tzimouri of Tripolis, Greece, and their extended families respectively. Jim Christie also leaves behind much loved extended family from around the world.
Additionally, Jim leaves behind by his second family: the staff at Christie's Seafood & Steaks, which includes several members who have been with him 30+ years. He was a father figure to many who have passed through his doors of employment.
The Christie Family will receive family and friends on Monday, December 2, 2013 from four until half past six o'clock in the evening with Trisaigion Service at half past six. The funeral service will be held at ten o'clock in the morning on Tuesday, December 3, 2013. Both services will be held at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral, 3511 Yoakum Boulevard, Houston, Texas 77006. Burial will follow at Forest Park Westheimer Cemetary.
Active pallbearers are: Marko Dasigenis, Tasos Kostas, George Kotsionis, Argiris Gerentes, Vasili Priovolos, Dean Pappas of Los Angeles, California and Eric Rowe.
Honorary pallbearers and Jim's longtime friends and family: Dr. Eleftherios Stamatiou, Pete Kaldis, Lewis Pappas, Chris Demopoulos, Manthos Katsaounis, Aris Dasigenis, Manthos Chalastaras, Lewis Constantine, Constantine Megas and Terry Tripsas.
In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations in Jim Christie's memory be made to: Hellenic College Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology,
50 Goddard Avenue Brookline, Massachusetts
Published in Houston Chronicle from Nov. 29 to Dec. 1, 2013