John L. Santikos
1927 - 2014
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September 8, 1927 - December 30, 2014
Family, employees, friends and business associates today are mourning the passing of John Louis Santikos, who built the largest family-owned theatre circuit in Texas. John died Tuesday, December 30 at Methodist Hospital after a short illness. Born September 8, 1927, he was 87.

John is survived by his daughter, Violet Santikos, sister Kiki Pringle (husband Albert Lymberry), grand-daughter Cassandra Sophia Frank, nephews Thad Bonduris (wife Kathryn), Argie Bonduris and Christopher Bond, nieces Nikki and Heather Bonduris and Shara Lynn Graves and husband Duane and true friend caregiver Susan Schadel. It was his wish that the theater and real estate operations bearing his name continue in their current form. He had created the John L. Santikos Charitable Foundation in 2011 which will be administered by the San Antonio Area Foundation.

John Santikos led a long and eventful life. He was born in Athens, Greece to Toula and Louis Santikos. Louis Santikos first came to the United States in 1911 from Greece, originally settling in Waco, where he originally worked in a grocery store. At the store, he noticed long lines of people who lined up every day to get into the Rex Theatre, a nickelodeon across the street. Sensing the opportunity, he saved his money and was able to buy the theater, beginning what would be a century-plus of involvement in movie theaters by him and his son, John. In 1918, John's father was invited by San Antonio businessmen to move to the city and enter into the movie theater business. Louis began by operating the Rialto Theatre on Houston Street, and then opened the Palace Theatre on Alamo Plaza – San Antonio's first ""movie palace"" and the forerunner of the Majestic, Aztec and Texas theatres.

He returned to Greece in 1925 where he met and married Toula Gatos and brought her back to San Antonio. In 1927, Louis Santikos sold most of his business interests in San Antonio and moved back to Athens, Greece where he became a successful film distributor and where John was born.

During World War II, Germany occupied Greece and Nazi officers took over the Santikos home, living upstairs while the family lived downstairs – a time of great tension and fear for the family, John recalled. When the German occupation ended in 1944, a civil war broke out between Communists and British/American-supported forces. At one point, Louis Santikos and John fled the house just hours before Communist guerillas arrived, looking for them. The civil war lasted until 1949.

Fear for his family's safety, Louis sent John and then his sister Kiki and brother Dean (now deceased) back to San Antonio in 1946. John entered St. Mary's University in 1947, taking academic courses and learning English at the same time. He earned his business degree in only two and a half years, during which time his father and mother also moved back to San Antonio.
In 1950, Louis built and opened the Olmos Theatre on San Pedro Avenue, which became the basis of the ""new"" Santikos Theatres company. John joined his father at the Olmos, taking tickets, handling concessions and managing the theatre in all aspects, learning film booking, marketing – a practical education from his father and by hands-on experience.

By 1958, Louis and Toula decided to return to their home and film distributorship business in Athens, with John taking over the company in San Antonio.

He grew Santikos Theatres rapidly, purchasing and building theatres up through the Texas real estate downturn of 1987, when he sold all his theatres to Act III Theatres, owned by TV impresario Norman Lear. Act III later sold all of its theatres – including those in San Antonio – to Regal Cinema. When Regal filed for bankruptcy in 2001, John was able to buy back all the San Antonio theatres he had originally sold to Act III.

In 2003, he build the Silverado 16 Theatre on Bandera Road, and followed that with the Palladium 19 IMAX in The Rim in 2006. In 2008, he built the Silverado 19 IMAX in Tomball (suburban Houston).

Santikos Theatres celebrated its Centennial Year in 2011, which John marked by making major scholarship gifts to both St. Mary's University and the University of Texas at San Antonio. An active arts supporter, Mr. Santikos believed in community service. The company he founded partners with many arts organizations, including the San Antonio Symphony, the San Antonio Opera, and the San Antonio Metropolitan Ballet. He was an active member and supporter of Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Church.

Over the years, Santikos Theatres brought the ""latest and greatest"" in cinema technology to San Antonio. From the first drive-in theatres (the San Pedro Drive-In) and multi-plex indoor theatres, to THX and digital sound technology, Santikos Theatres led the way in innovation. More recent additions include 3D presentation, Hollywood IMAX films, HD digital projection, in-theatre dining and the city's only art-house (the Bijou). Santikos theatre patrons enjoy Red Carpet premieres and exclusive showings of concerts and special attractions.

In recognition of John's real estate achievements, the San Antonio Business Journal named The Legacy, his 100-acre lifestyle center project at Loop 1604 and Highway 281, Best Real Estate Project in 2006. The project includes a power center component featuring anchor tenants Lifetime Fitness, Best Buy, and Sportsman's Warehouse. Most recently, construction began in November of this year on Dwell at Legacy, a 289-unit Class A apartment complex situated on 8.28 acres of The Legacy complex and scheduled to open in June, 2015.

Santikos Theatres contributes much to the local economy, employing over 1,000 workers ranging from theater ushers to managers and corporate officials. Equally known for its work with charitable organizations, Santikos Theatres offers canned food drives for the local food bank, helps with Red Cross donation and the Raul Jimenez Thanksgiving Dinner, and encourages patrons to support fundraisers for many non-profit organizations.

Mr. Santikos will lie instate on Sunday, January 4, 2015 at 10:00 a.m. and Monday, January 5, 2015 at 10:00 a.m. at Porter Loring on McCullough Ave.

JANUARY 5, 2015
7:00 P.M.

JANUARY 6, 2015
12:00 P.M.
2504 N. ST. MARY'S

Interment in Sunset Memorial Park. Pallbearers will be Bob Braubach, Victor Gerleman, Nick Anthony, Danny Organ, Kevin Dolan, Trey Cooper and Mike Sopher. In lieu of flowers, the family request donations be made to Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Church, 2504 N. St. Mary's, San Antonio, TX 78213.

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Published in San Antonio Express-News from Jan. 3 to Jan. 5, 2015.
No memorial events are currently scheduled. To offer your sympathy during this difficult time, you can now have memorial trees planted in a National Forest in memory of your loved one.
Memories & Condolences
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19 entries
January 11, 2015
Dear Kiki, David and I were so very sorry to hear of John's passing. We've known him for so many years. He will be greatly missed as a kind friend, creative businessman and community supporter. With sincere sympathy, Liz and David Jauer
January 11, 2015
I will miss John. I haven't spoken to him in a few years. I often think of him. I will always remember him. My condolences to the family.
Lisa Holland McLeish
January 11, 2015
I have many fond memories of John and I playing tennis at the Turtle Creek Apartments tennis courts. John was an inspiration to those that knew him.
Tim Long
January 9, 2015
Sorry to here of John's passing.Many good memorys at turtle creek aptments in the 70's REST IN PEACE JOHN news at six
Stanley Moore
January 7, 2015
Our community has lost an icon. Mr. Santikos was as generous as he was successful. We are grateful to have known him. His story is like that of many Greek immigrants who worked hard and lived the American Dream! Our condolences to his family. May God rest his soul and his memory be eternal.
Beth & Rini Tsounakas
January 6, 2015
To Kiki,Violet,chris,and argie.I worked as a theater manager for many years at the Olmos and Central park Fox. I send my deepest condolences to the family of Mr Santikos.he was a wonderful man to work for. May God bless him.
Ben Perso
January 6, 2015
I had the pleasure to meet and get to know Mr. Santiko's while I managed The Rim Shopping Center in San Antonio. Not only was I impressed with him as a person but was also very impressed with his business skills. I live in Santa Fe now but every time I return back home to visit San Antonio I will always think of the legacy that he has created. I feel very privileged to have had the honor to work with him and to know him.
My heartfelt condolences to the family. Dee Dee Vigil
Dee Dee Vigil
January 6, 2015
My regards to the santikos family may he rest in peace you will be miss from the cuellar family
lisa cuellar
January 6, 2015
May your hearts soon be filled with wonderful memories of joyful times together as you celebrate a life well lived.
Balous & Julie Miller
January 6, 2015
My dear friend Kiki,

My thoughts are with you at this time with the loss of your brother. I pray that you and all his family have comfort in your memories of the great life your brother led. He accomplished so much and was such a leader in the theatre industry. I will call on you soon to have lunch and visit personally with you! Until then know that I am thinking about you!
With love, Anita
Anita Fuller
January 5, 2015
My thoughts and prayers to Kiki, Violet and the extended family of John Santikos. John was a visionary Icon of Theater owners that I had the privilege to work for six years and know him as a developer and business owner. John was always one to embrace technology in the theater business. Multiplex theaters, Dolby Stereo, THX sound, to 70MM, IMAX and one of the first companies in the country to convert to all digital projection, 3D and Dolby Atmos sound. He was a risk taker that made him known as fierce competitor and one to develop new ways to generate ticket and food sales in his theaters. His desire to develop real estate was equal to his love of the movie theater business. He had passion, energy and desire to create his brand of going to the movies and provide shopping to his City of San Antonio. He will be missed, but not forgotten.
Bill Menke
January 5, 2015
I never knew this fine gentleman. I am only a native San Antonian who wishes to express my admiration, and respect for all he gave our city. R.I.P. sir. God bless his family.
Theresa Hernandez
January 5, 2015
Dear Kiki ,Albert and family,
May God bless you and bring you peace and comfort.
How happy your dad must have been to have a son to carry on his dream.
January 4, 2015
Dear Kiki,
May his memory be eternal.
Wanda and Damon, my parents, loved you very much.
Cynthia Tassos Phillips
January 4, 2015
I came on the scene at the Olmos Theatre when you and your father were both working there. I was the young kid putting your ads in the Express-News. Got to know you both and watched you grow over the years. John you are a good man and now you can rest in peace. God Bless you, God rest your soul, your ole friend Jim Keller
January 3, 2015
Kiki Violet Argie Cassandra and family my deepest condolences for your loss.What a great pleasure it was to work with
John. He truly loved art and the theaters. He always spoke so
highly of all of you. I loved the
stories he would share with me. He worked very hard so that others would enjoy his theaters. John encouraged me to go back to school which I did. I graduated with a 4.0 received a degree made the national honor society. Thank you John for believing in me.I have since moved back to NM. Im sorry I won't be able to attend his service. I will always remember him and the rest of you so fondly. May the Lord bless all of you.
Joleen Bingham
January 3, 2015
My thoughts and prayers are with you all. Shawna
Shawna Smith
January 3, 2015
Thank you Mr. Santikos for the countless hours spent at your many theaters . I've enjoyed them all from the San Pedro Drive inn to the Paladium . May you rest in peace .
Barbara Lange
January 3, 2015
Kiki, Argie, and the family, my thoughts and prayers are with you in this time of loss and celebration of John. XXOO Shelly McTee
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