Photography

Peter Gekas

November 21, 1937 ~ December 13, 2020 (age 83)

Obituary

Died peacefully at home on Sunday, December 13, 2020, in the loving embrace of his family. Survived by his beloved wife of 50 years, Joanne (Setlik) Gekas; their two children, Elena (Jim) Tasikas and Alexi Gekas; three adored grandchildren, Stylianos(Stevie), Inna, & Peter Tasikas; sisters, Helen Anastas, Terry Kirkos, and Vicki (Denis) Fachard; brother-in-law, Michael Setlik, and sisters-in-law, Sandra Heath, Dolores (Frank) Setlik; and countless more who knew and loved him as their uncle, cousin, mentor, and friend.

Born on Greece’s frontier of Norther Epirus in the village of Sopiki on November 21,1937, Peter arrived in the United States in 1957, destined to settle in Rochester by ancient fates. A  WWII refugee from the Balkans, Peter’s journey to America began with a note he discovered in the pocket of a coat donated to his refugee camp by the World Council of Churches. On it, was written the name and address of Irma Smith of Fairport, NY who would go on to sponsor Peter’s entire family to immigrate to America.  From his first home on Woodbine Avenue, to the home on Beresford Road where he and Joanne would raise a family, Peter’s generosity of spirit, love of family, good food, and even better spirit (preferably bottles of Guigal Cote du Rhone) were often shared over memorable celebrations honoring the milestones of a life well lived.   

Fiercely proud of his Greek identity, but equally committed to the ideals and promise of post-war America, Peter enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1960 where he served with distinction in Operations and Intelligence as a Group Photographer stationed in Darmstadt, Germany. His military service would afford him countless gifts and lessons; a lifelong love of travel, a passion and respect for politics and history, and through the GI Bill, he completed his B.A. in Linguistics from the University of Rochester in 1974. The military introduced him to the technical skills of photography and forged a lifelong passion. An amateur photographer of enormous talent, his professional quality photographs made him the family archivist. Everyone that knew him has a memory of Peter with one of his cameras.

After working for The Eastman Kodak Company (of course) he and his wife made the brave decision to open one of Rochester’s first fine-dining Greek restaurants - The Olive Tree on Monroe Avenue. Pete and Joanne would introduce Rochester to a sophisticated menu of authentic Greek dishes (his Taramosalata is the stuff of legend) and his passion for food, hospitality, and cheer made the restaurant one of Rochester’s early high-end eateries serving university professors, local politicians, and celebrity guests Anthony Quinn and Danny Kaye among others. Peter lived to eat, planned dinner over breakfast, loved nothing as much as a good spanakopita or Weiner Schnitzel with an ice-cold beer and he lovingly passed his culinary expertise to his children and extended family who proudly carry on his traditions. He was, and always will be remembered as, a gentleman and scholar who made everyone who knew him feel loved. He will be greatly missed but lives on in children and grandchildren. 

After a decades-long battle, he succumbed to complications from Parkinson’s. Friends may call tomorrow from 12 PM - 1:30PM at the funeral home (495 N. Winton Rd.). In accordance with CDC COVID-19 Guidelines, the funeral will be private. The family hopes to extend an invitation for Peter’s Memorial and Celebration of Life in six months in accordance with Greek Orthodox tradition. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations be made to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research in his memory (https://www.michaeljfox.org/donate). You may view a live stream of the funeral with the following link: https://client.tribucast.com/tcid/26238227

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Peter Gekas, please visit our floral store.


Services

Visitation
Wednesday
December 16, 2020

12:00 PM to 1:30 PM
Crawford Funeral Home
495 N. Winton Road
Rochester, NY 14610

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