CHRIS P. TOMARAS (1937-2015)
With roots in Messenia, Greece, Chris P. Tomaras was born in Piraeus, Greece, where he was raised and received his formal schooling. In 1957, while attending the Athens Graduate School of Economics and Business Sciences, he immigrated to the United States.
Initially, Mr. Tomaras was involved in a number of entrepreneurial businesses that eventually led to the establishment of the largest Greek food product manufacturer in the United States, known as “Kronos Foods.” After 20 years of successful operation, Mr. Tomaras sold “Kronos Foods” to a venture firm, which continues to operate successfully to this day. Preceding the sale, Mr. Tomaras founded Tomaras Investments, Itd., a private investment firm with holdings in real estate, the money markets, and in several operating companies in the United States and abroad.
Not only was Mr. Tomaras a successful businessman, but he was a great philanthropist and activist for Hellenic causes. Mr. Tomaras made significant contributions to several institutions that support Hellenic studies and offer assistance and services to various Greek communities throughout the world. In 2008, he donated $1,000,000 to the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago in order to assist in the establishment of the Saint Iakovos Camp and Retreat Center.
With the goal to promote education among young Hellenes in the United States, Mr. Tomaras founded what is today the PanHellenic Scholarship Foundation. Each year, the Foundation offers $250,000 in scholarships to Greek-Americans pursuing higher education in the United States. Along with his great work at the PanHellenic Scholarship Foundation, he served as a member of the Anatolia College Board of Trustees located in Thessaloniki, Greece; he was a founding member of the American Foundation of Hellenic Studies at Georgia State University, and he was a member of Leadership 100.
Mr. Tomaras has served in leadership positions in a number of civic, community and business organizations. He served for three consecutive terms as President of the PanMessenian Federation of USA and Canada. He has also served for five consecutive two-year terms as Vice President for North & South America of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (ΣAE), focusing on the needs of the Region’s Greek education efforts, on a just resolution to the occupation of Cyprus, the “Macedonia name” controversy, the Pontian Genocide and other Greece’s national concerns.
In recognition of his generous philanthropic spirit, Mr. Tomaras was honored by many organizations. His All-Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, appointed Mr. Tomaras an Archon of the Order of Saint Andrew. In 2003, he became an honorary citizen of Panama City, Panama, and in 2004 he was named “Hellene of the Year” by the Hellenic Bar Association of Illinois. Finally, in recognition for his crowning achievements in funding Hellenic and Orthodox education he received an honorary Doctor of Humanities from Hellenic College-Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology.
On October 14, 2015 our beloved Mr. Tomaras fell asleep in the Lord. While Mr. Tomaras may be gone his legacy, through the Foundation, lives on. In order to ensure that he could continue to help young Greek Americans after he had left us, Mr. Tomaras gifted the foundation with an endowment and structured the organization with three permanent trustees, Robert Buhler, Athan Tom Sotos, and John Manos, who oversee the management of the Foundation through the Board of Directors.