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James (Jimmy) Tarabicos

1932 - 2019
James (Jimmy) Tarabicos Obituary
James (Jimmy) Tarabicos

Wilmington - James (Jimmy) Tarabicos, age 87, peacefully departed this life on October 12, 2019, surrounded by his wife and family.

James was born on January 24, 1932 in Kato Hora, Nafpaktos, Greece. He emigrated to the United States, with his brother, John, in 1951 at the age of 19. Even though it was not by design, he immediately began working at his uncle's restaurant, The Presto, at 817 Market Street in Wilmington. There he learned and perfected all aspects of the restaurant business and worked with some of the top chefs in the industry. In 1955, he and his wife, Sophia, opened Jim's Restaurant at 8th and Orange Streets. By 1958, Jimmy and Sophia, along with his brother Constantine and sister-in-law Anastasia, purchased The Presto and the property associated with it. Later, with Jimmy and Sophia as sole owners, the restaurant was rebranded as "Tarabicos Restaurant." He was a highly respected and universally admired restaurateur and businessman. "Tarabicos" had many well-known customers over the years, including Mickey Rooney, Reggie White and Bruce Springsteen. Jimmy and Sophia provided employment opportunities to hundreds of Delaware residents. It was one of the few restaurants that renowned News Journal food critic, Otto Dekom, always gave an excellent review.

Jimmy was also very active in his community, especially the Greek-American community. As President of the Parish Council of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in 1973-74, he spearheaded and led the project that ultimately became the Hellenic Community Center. In spite of many skeptics, cynics and detractors, he persisted with this endeavor for many years, and that same Community Center, 40 years later, serves as the focal point for the annual Greek festival, numerous community events and fundraisers, youth tournaments and religious retreats, and the Church's Sunday School and Greek School. James also served as Supreme President of the Federation of Sterea Ellas.

Jimmy was a devoted husband and proud father. Any negative word about his children was met with fierce and immediate retort. When Sophia was diagnosed with colon cancer and the prospects did not look good, he stood by her side and fought with her to defeat it. Jimmy and Sophia's life was filled with a genuine love and endless romance. They were a striking couple and whenever he and Sophia attended a dance, party or nightclub, they would be impeccably dressed and the envy of the room. He lived within his means, but always did things with class. Although he lived in Wilmington, dozens of restaurants in New York City knew him, and he and Sophia always had the best table in the establishment whenever they visited the City, beginning with their honeymoon. He loved his daily walks in Bellevue State Park with Bill, Charlie and Costa Terris, as well as cooking for his family. His rice pudding, moussaka, pastitsio, fasolada and avgolemono were incomparable. He also enjoyed soccer, especially his beloved Olympiacos and the US Men's National team.

He was not a man that was impressed with money, possessions or accumulating assets. His most prized possession was his United States Citizenship. He was a very proud American and, like many from his generation, understood the value, honor and prestige of becoming a citizen of this country. He spent his life giving back to his country and worked tirelessly to help dozens of other immigrants to, likewise, become legal citizens of the US. He always insisted that they act and feel like "proud Americans."

Jimmy was predeceased by his daughter Stavroula and his brothers, Constantine and George. He is survived by the love of his life of 65 years, Sophia; his three children, Alexandra Nannas (Ted), Larry Tarabicos and Georgiean Dovellos (Costa); his six grandchildren, Kristin Tsamoutalis (Al), Sophia Tarabicos, Maria Tarabicos, Sophia Nannas, Michael Dovellos and Dimitri Dovellos; and his great-granddaughter, Poppy Tsamoutalis. His grandchildren, and all of their accomplishments, were his pride and joy. His face always lit up when they came to visit him. He is also survived by his brothers, Christos and John. He and his brother John remained very close these long 69 years since arriving from Greece together. The family also acknowledges the love and support that Jimmy received from the women he referred to as his (much younger) "sisters," Terry Wibbens and Amber Beatty, whose care and attention prolonged his happy life.

Funeral services will be held at 11:00 am on Thursday, October 17, 2019 at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church. Visitation will take place that morning, prior to the funeral, from 9:30 am to 11:00 am. Interment will follow in Silverbrook Cemetery, Wilmington, DE.

For those who desire to contribute to James' memory, the family requests donations to either Waggies by Maggie and Friends which provides employment to persons with intellectual disabilities, at PO Box 7933, Wilmington, DE 19803; or the BSSP Program at Christ Lutheran Church, 315 N. Shipley Street, Seaford, DE 19973, or the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, 808 N. Broom Street, Wilmington, DE 19806.

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Published in The News Journal from Oct. 14 to Oct. 16, 2019
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