The founder of the American Hellenic Institute (AHI) and one of the most active proponents of Greek, Cypriot and Greek-American interests in Washington, DC, Eugene (Gene) Rossides has died, the AHI said in an announcement on Monday. He was 92.
“A proud American who never lost sight of his ancestry, Gene Rossides championed and inspired a generation and more to advocate for the rule of law, for Hellenism and justice for Cyprus. He provided a lifetime of service and dedication to America, Greece, Cyprus and Hellenic ideals,” the AHI said.
Rossides founded the AHI in the wake of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974 and was the driving force behind the 1975-1978 US arms embargo against Turkey. He was also the first Greek American to be confirmed by the US Senate to an Executive Branch office and served as assistant secretary for the US Treasury in the Nixon administration.
“It is with a heavy heart that I reflect upon Gene Rossides and what he meant to the community, AHI, and me, personally,” AHI President and CEO Nick Larigakis said in an announcement. “I am forever indebted and grateful to Mr. Rossides for his leadership, guidance, and mentorship over the decades. I am most appreciative of his entrusting me with the opportunity to lead the AHI, of which its mission he valued so deeply. I have always tried to lead this organization in a way that always honors his name and the passion with which he championed the causes for which he cared deeply.”
Rossides “has been an inspiration to all of us in doing the right thing, a champion of the rule of law, and respected broadly on both sides of the Atlantic for his values and integrity,” said AHI Foundation President Constantine A. Galanis.
Rossides was born in the New York borough of Brooklyn in 1927 and went on to study law at Columbia University before joining the law firm of Rogers & Wells.
He served as publisher of diaspora newspaper the National Herald from 1976-1979 and in the 1980s worked on the election campaigns of Ronald Reagan and George Bush, as well as publishing several books on the Cyprus issue, on Greece’s role in US foreign policy and other related topics.
He also received numerous awards for this contribution to the furtherment of Greek and Cypriot interests, including the Commander of the Order of the Phoenix by Greek President Kostis Stephanopoulos, the Republic of Cyprus’ Presidential Exceptional Service Medal and an investiture in The Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle – Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in America.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in a statement that Rossides' legacy "remains a shining example for future generations, as it is based on strong foundations and is inspired by universal principles: patriotism and respect for law and democracy."
The Greek Foreign Ministry said that Rossides offered “valuable services to Hellenism, for which he was honored with important international distinctions.”
“His contribution to the struggle of the Cypriot people for freedom was also important, as well as to the defense of Cyprus' rights in the efforts for a viable solution to the Cyprus problem, after the Turkish invasion in 1974,” the ministry added.