Aristides Alafouzos was honored on Thursday at a funeral service at the Church of Aghios Dionysios Areopagitis in Kolonaki, central Athens, attended by his loved ones, friends, business associates and compatriots, fellow travelers on land and sea. Along with his sons Yiannis and Themistocles (Themis) and his grandchildren – from young Aristides to the youngest Emilia – the entire team from Kathimerini and Skai, people who work at his shipping company and on his ships were there to bid their affectionate farewells to a man who took care of us all in his own special way.
The Stoic philosophers used to say that people get what they deserve, and until his final breath, Aristides Alafouzos had a primal need to care for others, as a parent, as an employer, as a businessman – he was an exemplary public figure and a benefactor.
Coming from that iron generation of Greeks who witnessed the country’s destruction and rebirth, he committed himself to the tasks of reconstruction and success, both literally and metaphorically. He built roads, public infrastructure and ships. He also created a solid shelter for true journalism, breathing life into the historic Kathimerini newspaper at a time when both the political system and the moral order were being shaken to their foundations. He was the tireless civil engineer who wanted to offer a roof, a protective wing, to anyone he knew to be in need, compelled by his profound sense of duty toward his island, Santorini, society and the country.
The service was conducted by Archbishop Ieronymos in his soft, clerical tone, underscoring the sense of reverence of the occasion. White roses and peonies adorned the church. Yiannis Alafouzos assumed the daunting task of saying a few words about his beloved father, but was overcome with emotion. What he did manage to say was that his father taught him how to take on challenges, to remain independent and never to abuse power.
Kathimerini Executive Editor Alexis Papachelas spoke next. He knows firsthand that among his many accomplishments, Aristides Alafouzos always regarded the newspaper as his greatest. In an address full of love and gratitude, Papachelas thanked Aristides Alafouzos for the trust he showed by placing him at the helm of the paper and for the privilege of learning beside a man who was never tempted to abuse his power or connections, who was always guided by his moral principles, who set high standards for himself and his associates, and who also had both hope and a vision for the country.
As the ancestor of bold seamen who sailed all the way to the Black Sea from the Aegean, this native son of Santorini believed Greeks to be citizens of the world. He also envisioned Kathimerini as an important European newspaper, a guardian of democratic ideals, a moderate and calm voice in a society that is often guided by sentiment rather than reason.
His incredible legacy is undisputed and this was more than evident on Thursday. Competitors, friends and partners came in numbers to send off a great man who left his mark in the arenas of business, politics and the media.
The country’s state and political leadership was represented by Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos, leader of the main opposition New Democracy party Kyriakos Mitsotakis, former prime ministers Antonis Samaras, Costas Karamanlis and Lucas Papademos, Shipping Minister Panayiotis Kouroublis, Fofi Gennimata and Evangelos Venizelos from PASOK, Independent Greeks chief Dimitris Kammenos and the head of the Union of Centrists, Vassilis Leventis. The service was also attended by New Democracy vice presidents Adonis Georgiadis and Costas Hatzidakis, as well as Evangelos Meimarakis, Dora Bakoyannis, Santorini Mayor Nikos Zorzos and former minister Yiannis Palaiokrassas, among many others.
The business community also paid its respects, with attendees including Theodoros Vassilakis, Achilleas and Costanza Konstantakopoulos, Dimitris Kopelouzos and Giorgos Bobolas. From Alpha TV channel, there were Dimos Mantzounis, Vassilis Rapanos and Giorgos Aronis, as well as the president of the Hellenic Bank Association, Nikos Karamouzis, and businessman Dimitris Melissanidis.
Representatives of the Chinese Embassy in Athens also attended the service.
Aristides Alafouzos’s closest friends were of course there too, including members of the Kontelis family, Margarita Samourka, Xenia Gros, Valia Rozi, Professor Christos Doumas and Kaiti Tzitzikosta, who is the head of Greece’s UNESCO mission.
Aristides Alafouzos will be buried at his birthplace in Oia on Santorini, beside his beloved wife Lena, in a small service that will be attended only by family and close friends.