John Gust Meniktas
September 7, 1925 - March 10, 2013
Resident of Castro Valley
John G. Meniktas passed away peacefully with his loving and devoted wife of 61 years Claire, daughter Anna, sons Dean and Michael by his side.
Born and raised in San Francisco to Greek immigrant parents, Gust (originally from Halazoni, Messenia Greece) and Anna Tsafou (originally from Filiatra, Messenia Greece) Meniktas, John was the second eldest of four children, surviving his older sister Mary Thodos of San Mateo, his second oldest sister Martha Chronis of Daly City and his cousin who was like a brother to him, Diamond Davis of Pittsburg, Ca. His youngest sister Sophie Zogopoulos of Sacramento, cousins Demetra Spiro (Mitchell) of San Mateo, Andy Mitchell of Pittsburg, Ca, and Nethe Stevenson of So. California survives him. He is also survived by five grand daughters, Alexandra, Natalie, Claire, Georgia, Melina, and daughter-in-laws Ingrid, Mila and son-in-law John.
Being the only son surrounded by 3 doting Greek sisters and loving mother who looked up to him and admired him, he recalled many challenging and good times growing up Greek in San Francisco. Experiencing the Greek American way of life with family and with friends such as with San Francisco's former Mayor George Christopher and his family, he would recall vivid stories of his youth working in his father's diners the "Texas Chili" and the "New Post Office" located on the City's Embarcadero and how his father would tell him to get an education, otherwise he'd be "peeling potatoes all his life".
John was a very curious young boy, and in one instance (and there were many) he needed some metal for an idea he was tinkering and ended up melting his mother's silver tea set to harness the energy. You could imagine his mother was quite upset when she had some friends over and discovered her melted down tea set!
After John graduated from Polytechnic High School in San Francisco, WWII began and he enlisted in the Navy a day before his 17th birthday in 1942.
He served on the USS Rocky Mount through the duration of the ship's entire war service. It was the flagship of the fleet that lead nine amphibious invasions in the South Pacific, enduring twenty months of unbroken combat duty, the USS Rocky Mount during specific invasions was commanded by a number of different Admirals such "Blood and Guts" Turner, Royal, Nimitz and Kincaid. The USS Rocky Mount was instrumental in liberating the Philippine Islands and other key islands during the Pacific campaign. John was very good at algebra - math in general, and became a perfect fit to be 2nd Class Radarman. His natural talents paid off, he was recognized and received a commendation for outstanding performance of duty in radar navigation during an approach to a key strategic invasion in the Pacific. He was honorably discharged on March 19, 1946.
After the war and returning to San Francisco, he attended USF and graduated with an accounting degree. He played fullback on the USF Don's 1950 Men's Soccer National Championship team and played along side team - captain Stephen Negoesco who later became the nationally renowned head coach of the USF Dons Soccer Team.
His father Gust and mother Anna attended a dinner party at the Sarantis' Family home in Oakland and took special notice of an attractive and pleasant young lady named Claire Vlahos, the second oldest of three daughters of Mike and Antonia Vlahos of San Leandro. That night the news traveled quickly back to San Francisco, that young John would be well advised to meet this young lady as soon as possible. His big chance came when he attended a special dance held by the Daughters of Penelope at the Leamington Hotel in downtown Oakland where he first met Claire. Shortly after, they were engaged on July 4, 1951 and they married on Claire's birthday January 20, 1952 at the Greek Orthodox Church on Brush Street in Oakland.
Around the time of marriage, he worked for the IRS as a business tax auditor and during the course of auditing a particular place of business, the business owner took a liking to him introduced him to his stockbroker and branch manager of a local Merrill Lynch office. He began a new career in 1955 that spanned some 53 years as a stockbroker with Merrill Lynch in Oakland. He enjoyed advising his clientele in investments and devoted his entire professional career growing his client's family wealth. He especially took pride in being a very strong advocate for his clients. He was well known by clients and colleagues alike for "ruffling a lot feathers at the firm" in order to get exceptional service he felt his clients deserved. He again exhibited his insight and creative vision to establish the first employee stock ownership program of its kind with Lucky Stores in the 1960's in which he advised and administered. This form of employee ownership participation was an early precursor to today's 401(k) plans offered universally to most U.S. workers. He was a consistent recipient of the prestigious Merrill Lynch Chairman's Club conferred upon the top financial advisors of the firm each year. He was very happy to have his sons join him in the business in the 1990's where they are now managing in some cases 2nd and 3rd generation clientele. He finally decided to retire in 2008, at the age of 82. Throughout retirement, he stayed very active keeping abreast of market and economic trends and continued to "trade the stock market", it was his life long passion.
John was involved with a number of civic organizations, notably he served as president of the Ahepa Oakland Chapter #171 in 1961 and 1962.
He also observed a lack of Greek American support groups for business people and entrepreneurs and with others in the community decided to formally create a business network - association that would bring Greek and Philhellene business people together in the spirit of assisting each other in advancing business opportunities and youth career mentorship among their membership and the community. The new group came to be known as the Bay Area Greek American Business Association or BAGABA. He became one of its founders and served as its first president in 1990 and 1991.
He always said, "the youth are the future of our community" and in 1991 he and wife Claire created and funded the Meniktas Family Scholarship Fund at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Ascension Church in Oakland. The Scholarship Fund has provided numerous grants over the years to aspiring East Bay Greek Community graduating high school students. The Scholarship fund is now providing financial assistance to 2nd generation children of the orginal first time Scholarship recipients.
He always made time for any youth who approached him wanting advice about a career in financial services, or their interest in a business opportunity and was eager to dispense general career and business advice to those who asked him. In the end, he always encouraged them to follow their passion.
He always was kind and looked for the best in people who he met in his life. Devoted to his family, friends and wanting to make his community a little better than he found it.
Please join us in celebrating the Life and Times of John Meniktas. Family and friends are invited to attend the Trisagion Service on Thursday March 14, at 7:00p.m. The funeral memorial service will be held on Friday March 15 at 11:00 a.m. at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Ascension at 4700 Lincoln Avenue, Oakland Ca.
In lieu of flowers, the Meniktas Family prefers that donations be made in his name to the "Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Ascension Church's - Meniktas Scholarship Fund" Or the Multiple Sclerosis Society 1700 Owens Street, Suite 190 San Francisco, CA 94158. The Memo section of your check should note: "In Memory of John Meniktas". For further information please call: Harry W. Greer, Funeral Director (FDR-745)
Published in Inside Bay Area on Mar. 13, 2013
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