William H. Tzakis, age 92, a US Army Korean War Veteran, passed into eternal life of the Lord on March 13, 2021, at home with his family by his side. Bill was the beloved husband of Tula, nee Artemas, for 60+ wonderful years; loving father of Elaine Tzakis and Annamaria (Frank) Stornello; adoring Papou of Dean, Drew and Lena Stornello; devoted son of the late Harry and Anna, nee Neofitos, Tzakis; dear brother of James Tzakis, the late Helen (the late Peter) Flessas, and the late Sam (Theresa) Tzakis; fond brother-in-law of Rev. Fr. John (the late Nikie) Artemas, Nick (Eileen) Artemakis; the late Mary (the late George) Hronas, the late Gus (the late Helen) Artemakis and the late Stella Artemas; proud Godfather of Peter Artemas and George Spears; cherished uncle of many nieces and nephews.
Bill was born on February 11, 1929, in Chicago, IL. He was the youngest of 4 children whose parents both immigrated to America from Cephalonia, Greece. He was a dedicated family man and was always grounded in life because of his deep faith in God. He was raised in the city and often reminisced of his years helping out at his father’s grocery store after school with his brothers, riding the streetcars, seeing a movie at the theater for a quarter and sleeping in the park on hot summer nights with his family because their apartments did not have air conditioning.
Bill graduated from Lane Tech High School and attended Roosevelt University. He worked for Andies Candies and A&P Grocery store. Bill was employed for over 30 years at the UFCW (United Food and Commercial Workers Union), Local 1540, beginning his career as a business agent and then promoted to the local union’s Secretary-Treasurer. He was a member of the Hellenic American Legion, Post 343, for many years. His name is etched on The American Legion Hellenic American Veteran’s Memorial in Elmwood Cemetery with other men and women of Hellenic descent who served their country, the United States of America, honorably and gallantly.
In his youth, he served as an altar boy and chanted the hymns at church on Sundays. Attending liturgical services with his family gave Bill profound peace and joy. When his brother-in-law, Fr. John Artemas, and his nephew, Fr. Angelo Artemas, were assigned to local parishes for periods of time in Illinois, he felt extremely fortunate to hear their melodic voices and listen to their spiritually uplifting sermons.
Bill was an avid exercise enthusiast, an excellent swimmer and long distance runner, who continued his workouts at the YMCA well into his 80s. He had a voracious sweet tooth and had a special arrangement with his younger brother-in-law Nick. Nick would go get their favorite hot fudge sundaes and banana splits and Bill would pay for them. Bill would say, “I’ll buy you fly.” In later years he continued his ice cream adventures with his grandchildren. He enjoyed playing gin rummy and pinochle with his brothers, cousins and brothers-in-law on Saturday nights. Making model airplanes, listening to opera and contemporary music by ABBA, Neil Diamond and Andrea Bocelli, and watching classic movies and comedies on TV were some of his other favorite pastimes. Bill and his brother Jim always helped to fix and remodel family members’ and friends’ homes. One may say they were the original Property Brothers of Fixer-Uppers. If the renovation went well, they would wink at each other and joyfully exclaim, “Just like downtown!” If they encountered a problem, their brows would frown and they’d remark in frustration, “Get out of town with the horse that brought you!” After taking a brief break, they’d figure out the problem and accurately complete the home improvements. Bill will be remembered for his strong, firm handshake, being a man of his word, warm smile, kind and generous heart, and being a good neighbor and friend.
There was nothing he would not do to make sure the people he loved were taken care of. Bill’s love for his wife, children and grandchildren was evident in the countless hours he spent creating lasting memories with them. He enjoyed attending Dean, Drew and Lena’s soccer games and cheering them on from the sidelines, watching the boys achieve their black belts in Tae Kwon Do, and seeing his princess dance at her recitals. Wonderful family vacations, attending church services together, regular weekend family dinners, and affectionately cuddling up close to one another on the couch with his loved ones are a few of the treasured memories and blessings of a life well-lived.
His wife and daughters would like to extend their sincere thanks and gratitude to the exceptional caregivers who compassionately provided care for Bill over the last two years: Juba Chikonde, Aaliyah Allen, Maria Long, Jessica Alvarez, Igor Panasyuk, and JourneyCare’s Hospice care staff, Audrey Friedland, RN, Akiba Mellanson and Jessica Reich.
Bill was a true American-Greek Warrior who fought his battle valiantly in the war against Alzheimer’s, a war that has yet to be won. May he rest peacefully in the everlasting brilliant light of God’s heavenly kingdom, knowing that he will remain in all of our hearts forever.
Due to Covid Restrictions, a private Funeral Service will be held. To attend virtually, we will live-stream the service via the church website at Sts. Peter and Paul Greek Orthodox Church on Wednesday, March 17, 2021 at 11:00 AM. Interment Elmwood Cemetery, River Grove, IL.
A Celebration of Bill’s Life will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made in his memory to the National Alzheimer’s Association at 225 North Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL, Sts. Peter and Paul Greek Orthodox Church at 1401 Glenview Rd., Glenview, IL or the Greek American Rehabilitation & Care Centre at 220 N. First St. Wheeling, IL.
May His Memory Be Eternal.