August 22, 1926 ~ April 1, 2017
Chris William Caras passed away on April 1, 2017 at the age of 90 after a long and fulfilling life. Given the name of Christ at birth, there is solace that the services for his return will be held during Holy Week. Guided by his conviction and passion for religion and selfless devotion to others, he extended the love for his immediate family to others in the community by becoming a devoted member of Saint Katherine Greek Orthodox Church in Redondo Beach, Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Los Angeles, and Providence Little Company of Mary Hospital in Torrance.
Chris was born in Los Angeles on August 22, 1926, the first born of Soteria and William Caras, immigrants from the Peloponnesian Peninsula of Greece. His mother was from the coastal village of Tsoukalaika and his father was from the mountain village of Soudena. The family settled in Inglewood with brother George and sister Patricia and with extended family and fellow Greek immigrants living in adjacent homes and nearby. In 1957 he married Joan Georggin from San Diego and they raised a family in Palos Verdes Estates.
The son of pioneer immigrants, Chris helped his family forge a new life by joining his father in pre-dawn visits to the central market to buy the fruit and vegetables which they sold door-to-door from a cart. His parents instilled an entrepreneurial spirit, commitment to education, and devotion to family and community that followed Chris throughout his life. He attended George Washington High School and UCLA where he graduated with a BA in accounting and was a member of the wrestling team.
During high school, Chris developed a love for cars which led him to enter the car muffler business, eventually saving the money to purchase the land and build his own muffler shop which he named Caras Muffler Service which he proudly ran from 1953 to 1965. He then re-directed his labor to developing real estate, primarily in the South Bay, during the time that the area transformed from open and agricultural land to residential and commercial uses. Like his earlier years when he sold fruit and vegetables and built mufflers, Chris was hands-on and in the field oftentimes working side by side with tradesmen. Chris was also a founding board member of Bay Cities National Bank. One of his proudest accomplishments as a member of the St. Katherine Building Committee was the recent completion of the Joan and Chris W. Caras Education Center at St. Katherine. In addition to the St. Katherine Building Committee, Chris was a member of the Capital Campaign Committee, served on the Audit Committee from 2005-2010, and chaired the construction of the community center and kitchen in 1973. He was a founding director and also served as Vice President of the St. Katherine Foundation.
Beyond Saint Katherine, Chris was an ardent supporter of the Greek Orthodox Church in the United States and of other parishes in Southern California. At St. Sophia, he served on the Parish Council during the early 1950's, and later on the Building Financial Committee from 2004-2009.Together with his wife Joan, his philanthropic efforts in support of the Greek Orthodox Church included establishing a Scholarship Endowment Fund with the St. Katherine Foundation, a Scholarship Endowment Fund with St. Nicholas School in Northridge and, most recently, contributing to St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in New York which is now being rebuilt after 9-11. Chris served on the Board of Trustees and Executive Board of the Archbishop Iakovos Leadership 100, an endowment fund of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese dedicated to maintaining the life-sustaining ministries of the church. Chris also served on the Board of Trustees of Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute ("PAOI") in Berkeley, California, an institute that offers an opportunity for scholars to study Eastern Orthodox theology. For his outstanding service to the church and in recognition of his well-known, distinguished and well-regarded leadership of the Orthodox Christian Community, Chris received the honor of Archon of Ecumenical Patriarchate Order of Saint Andrew. Most recently, Chris received the Medal of St. Paul, the highest honor bestowed on a lay person by the Greek Orthodox Church.
Chris served on the Board of Trustees of the Providence Little Company of Mary Hospital Foundation in Torrance for fourteen years. In appreciation for his service to the hospital, Chris was recently recognized as a Trustee Emeritus. In addition to giving his time, Chris worked towards furthering the missions of the hospital by establishing an endowment for the state-of-the-art Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and he was very proud that it was the first of its kind in Southern California. The surgical wing of the hospital bears the name Chris W. and Joan Caras in their honor. Most recently, Chris gave his support to the Heart to Heart Campaign which benefits the LCMH Cardiovascular Center of Excellence. He was a founding donor of the Norris Theater for the Performing Arts as well as a donor of the Palos Verdes Arts Center. He served on the board of the American Cancer Society – Beach Cities and has been a member of the Al Malaikah Shrine since 1975.
Chris enjoyed traveling, having traveled to six continents. His favorite travels were to the Holy Land and throughout Europe with his wife Joan, deep sea fishing trips with friends and family, and cruises in Alaska with his entire family including grandchildren.
He enjoyed tending to his fruit trees and garden, antique shopping, old clocks, and vintage cars. He could often be spotted at the monthly vintage car show at Peninsula Center in Rolling Hills Estates, often accompanied by his son and namesake Chris Jr.
He is survived by his wife of 59 years, Joan; beloved children: Rhea Rendon (Patrick), Stacy Tempereau (John), and Chris Caras, Jr. (Jennifer); treasured grandchildren Christopher, Sophia, Nikolas, Andreas, Chris III ("CJ"), Julianne and Grace; his sister Patricia Marchbanks (Mel); and cousins, nieces and nephews. His family and friends will sorely miss him and carry cherished memories of his loving warmth and compassion. Remembering his humor will cheer us, his devotion will guide us, and his love will comfort us.
The Trisagion Memorial Service will be held on Monday, April 10th at 7:00 pm at St. Katherine Greek Orthodox Church, 722 Knob Hill, Redondo Beach, CA 90277 and the funeral services will be held on Tuesday, April 11th at 10:30 am at St. Sophia Cathedral, 1324 South Normandie Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90006.
Contributions in lieu of flowers and in his honor may be made to St. Katherine Greek Orthodox Church Building Fund or St. Sophia Cathedral Foundation.
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