John Edward Damianos, a principal at the third-generation family business Damianos Realty Group, died unexpectedly Monday at his home in Old Field. He was 67.
Damianos, an attorney by trade and legal counsel for the firm, joined the real estate business in the 1980s. The firm was founded in 1968 by his father, Dr. Xenophon Damianos, in Stony Brook.. What began as a venture to create a larger office for his father’s medical practice grew into a multigenerational real estate company that acquired more than 1 million square feet of commercial space, including office buildings, garden apartments, shopping centers and industrial properties all over Long Island.
Damianos, a member of the Suffolk County Bar Association since 1982, had represented the company in its real estate dealings, including acquisitions and leases, for nearly 40 years. He was a prominent figure behind the scenes at the firm, said his younger brother and firm principal X. Cristofer Damianos.
“He was a big part of everything we did,” his brother said. “I couldn’t have done it without him.”
"My father was the kindest, quirkiest, most loving person," said his daughter Elexis Zoe Damianos. "He was my whole world and we were extremely close. He loved working on his Porsche in his mechanics' jump suit, planting flowers and obsessing about how to make the business better. I was lucky enough to have worked with him these past five years and it was the best decision of my life."
The eldest of six children, Damianos was born on Dec. 19, 1951, to Xenophon and Virginia Damianos in upstate Plattsburgh, and grew up in Stony Brook. He attended the Stony Brook School, and earned his law degree at the California Western School of Law.
“Most people would never know when they saw him how successful he was. He wasn’t flashy,” X. Cristofer said. “He was a really salt of the earth guy. … I don’t think I’ve ever met anybody who didn’t like him.”
John J. Finn, director of leasing and acquisitions at Damianos, said John Damianos’ business style prioritized doing right by stake holders while homing in on details. “His style was to be slow and steady and do the right thing at all costs,” said Finn, who knew Damianos for more than 20 years. “He prided himself and made sure that buildings were maintained at the highest level, both in and out.”
In addition to maintaining his vintage 1970s era Porsche, a gift from his late father, Damianos was known as an avid gardener, a passion that extended into his real estate work. “The landscaping was superior in all the Damianos buildings,” said Marie Zere, president and chief executive of Zere Real Estate Services Inc. and a longtime business colleague of Damianos'. “All the beautiful flowers you see … that was all John.”
“He’s really going to be sorely missed,” she said.
In addition to his daughter and brother, Damianos is survived by his son, John James Damianos; his former wife and good friend Evonne Damianos; another brother, Pelops Damianos; and sisters, Bonnie Lee Rampone, Elektra Gaebelein and Beth Ann Damianos.
Visitation is on Saturday and Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m. and from 7 to 9 p.m. at Bryant Funeral Home, at 411 Old Town Rd. in Setauket. A funeral service will be held Monday at 10 a.m. at the Greek Orthodox Church of the Assumption, 430 Sheep Pasture Rd. in Port Jefferson.
The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the monastery of St. Dionysios, the City on a Hill Community Church or Bideawee Animal Rescue.