Wednesday, July 31, 2002

Obituary: Insurance agent was on board of Dixie Chili

James Sarakatsannis, 75, also helped lead March of Dimes

By Rebecca Billman,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        James N. Sarakatsannis, a member of the family that has owned and operated Dixie Chili for 73 years, died July 6 of cancer at Hospice of Cincinnati in Blue Ash. The Mount Airy resident was 75.

        Mr. Sarakatsannis worked part time for the chili business founded by his father, Nicholas, in 1929, serving as financial adviser, secretary and board member until 1991. He also went his own way, becoming a successful insurance agent.

        But first, he had a short-lived career as a radio announcer.

        Mr. Sarakatsannis grew up in Fort Thomas, where his parents had immigrated from Argos Orestikon, a small village in northern Greece, in 1916.

        The oldest of six sons, he graduated from Highlands High School in 1945, then served on a destroyer escort with the U.S. Coast Guard.

        Back home, he studied broadcasting at the Cincinnati College of Music and became an announcer for WZIP radio in Covington.

        After marrying Virginia D. Lambert in 1949, he switched to insurance, becoming a top agent for the Provident Mutual Life Insurance Co.

        Mr. Sarakatsannis took classes at the University of Cincinnati, where he earned his certified life underwriter's designation in 1967. He retired from the insurance business in 1988.

        In 1973, he was elected president of the Greater Cincinnati March of Dimes and headed one of the chapter's most successful campaign drives ever, according to his daughter Melanie McNulty of Finneytown. He was re-elected in 1974.

        Mr. Sarakatsannis was a 32nd degree Mason and a Shriner.

        In addition to his daughter Melanie, survivors include: his wife of 53 years, Virginia D. Lambert Sarakatsannis; another daughter, Debi Sylvester of Montgomery; a son, Nick Sarakatsannis also of Montgomery; five brothers, Leonidas of Sarasota, Fla., George, Chris and Panny, all of Fort Thomas, and Spiros of East Walnut Hills; and eight grandchildren.

        Services have been held. Burial was at Spring Grove Cemetery.

        Memorials: Holy Trinity-St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, 7000 Winton Road, Cincinnati 45224; Hospice of Cincinnati, 4310 Cooper Road, Cincinnati 45242; or the Alzheimer's Association, Suite 1026, 644 Linn St., Cincinnati 45202.


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