European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has released a statement expressing his condolences for the death of Dionissis Arvanitakis, a baker who, in 2015, was distributing 100 kilograms of bread a day to refugees arriving on the island of Kos.
“It is with sorrow that I learned of the death of Dionissis Arvanitakis, an exemplary European citizen, who has been rewarded by the European institutions for his rare generosity and sensitivity towards the hundreds of unfortunate immigrants.
My Europe is the one Dionissis Arvanitakis symbolized.
Have a good trip, dear baker of Kos, who every day gave bread to the hungry souls who had known so much suffering.
Sincere condolences to his family."
Arvanitakis, who grew up very poor in a family of 10, emigrated to Australia in 1957 and worked successfully as a baker there. He settled in Kos in 1970 and opened a business that eventually extended to five outlets, a pastry shop with seats, a grocery and a bread- and sweet-making factory.
In March 2015, he started providing the arriving refugees with free bread, driving the loaded van himself. “I know what it feels like to have nothing,” he told reporters then.
He was awarded for his services in 2016 by Europe’s Economic and Social Committee.
He died early Saturday morning.