CULTURE

Farewell to Stelios Papadimitriou, honorary president of Alexandros Onassis Foundation

At the age of 75, and having recently exchanged the title of president of the Alexandros S. Onassis Foundation for that of honorary president, Stelios Papadimitriou lost the battle with lung cancer. His ordeal led to complications that took him to the intensive-care unit of the Onassis Cardiology Hospital, where he died on November 23. The hospital, which was created by the foundation, was inaugurated by Papadimitriou and the two vice presidents. It was written that he should spend the last night of his life there. His funeral took place yesterday and was honored by the Church, the state, the academic community and many of his colleagues. In accordance with his wishes, the funeral was held at Aghia Fotini in Nea Smyrni, where Christina Onassis’s funeral was held on November 19, 1988. She was buried on the island of Skorpios, next to her father and brother, Aristotle and Alexandros Onassis. The bells tolled mournfully in the bell tower, which is a copy of the one at the church of the same name in Smyrna and which was donated by the foundation in memory of Aristotle Onassis and his two children. On this occasion they tolled for Papadimitriou, Onassis’s closest colleague, whom he employed in Alexandria in 1954, when he had just graduated in law, to deal with the legal aspects of transporting Saudi oil. «Only death will part us,» the 54-year-old Onassis said then to the 24-year-old lawyer, who subsequently became his legal adviser and later the executor of his will, having acted as a teacher to both Alexandros and Christina, at Onassis’s wish. Onassis never got over the death of his son, who died in 1975, and he left half his fortune to establish the Onassis Foundation to undertake a multitude of cultural activities in Greece and abroad. Papadimitriou is gone but his work will be maintained by his son Antonis Papadimitriou (president), Yiannis Ioannidis (vice president), and Giorgos Zambelas (secretary). The service was conducted by Patriarch Theodoros of Alexandria with the participation of Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece, Archbishop Anastasios of Albania, and Bishop Ioannis of Pergamum, representing the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, representing the prime minister, delivered a eulogy, as did Professor Georgios Babiniotis, rector of Athens University. Antonis Papadimitriou made a moving speech about his father as a parent and as president of the foundation. Among those who sent wreaths were the prime minister, the former king Constantine, and Athens University. Papadimitriou leaves his wife Alexandra, a teacher, who is also from Alexandria, and another two sons: Giorgos, who is in charge of engineering for the foundation, and Dimitris, a prominent composer. The large crowd that attended was a measure of the love with which the deceased was regarded. His burial was at the Faliron cemetery, near the sea that linked him with Onassis forever.