Peter Karagines, a US Navy veteran of both World War II and Korea, who with his best friend built up the country’s largest operators of food catering trucks and vending machines in Southern California, has made an extraordinary gift to Leadership 100 by pledging to fulfill the memberships of both Metropolitan Gerasimos of San Francisco and Bishop Athimos. Peter and his wife, Thelma, are fulfilled members and have belonged to Leadership 100 since 1996. He is an Archon “Maestro” of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and a recipient of the Patriarchal Cross and Medal of the Holy Sepulcher of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
Karagines was born May 6, 1924 in Stamford, Connecticut, the 10th of 11 children born to Physcopadis and Peter Karagines. He graduated Stamford High School in June 1942, joining the US Navy three months later, where he was eventually assigned to the USS Strong and saw action in the Solomon Islands, surviving incessant air attacks only to have his ship torpedoed. He was rescued from the sinking ship but later saw active duty again in the Philippines, ending his World War II service in torpedo school and a torpedo shop in the United States. He was discharged from the Navy in October 1945 and in 1946 met and later married Thelma, becoming the father of one son and three daughters and, eventually, eight grandchildren and seven great grandchildren. He was later to see action once again with the US Navy in the Korean War.
Karagines, who resides with his family in Yorba Linda, California, founded Orange County Food Service, the country’s largest catering truck commissaries, along with S&K Vending, with his best friend, Anthony Sigalos, in Buena Park, California in 1955, later moving the company to Anaheim. The companies, now run by Dennis Sigalos and Susan Karagines, the son and daughter of the founders, recently closed the catering truck business to focus on the vending machines business.
Karagines is one of the original founders of the Padre Foundation for Juvenile Diabetes, which was the first ever in Orange County, California and as a forty-year member of the Brea Lions Club, raises money for donations to the sight and hearing impaired. He also donated medical equipment to the Kennedy Kreiger Institute in Baltimore, Maryland. Enjoying a long relationship with Metropolitan Anthony of loving memory, he served as President of St. John the Baptist Church in Anaheim, assisting in its financial support and its reconstruction. He donated the dome for the Catholikon at St. Nicholas Ranch in Dunlap, California in honor of the Metropolitan.
In explanation of the extraordinary gesture in support of two Hierarchs of the Church and of Leadership 100, and ‘philanthropia’ of Peter Karagines, one of his daughters, Cassie, called him “my hero”. “My father”, she wrote, “was brought up in a small one bedroom home at 511 Pacific St. in Stamford Connecticut. The family was poor as far as material things but so rich with love and affection for one another. I have learned there is so much history wrapped up in just my father. When he talks, it is like listening to a movie on TV. Growing up, we seemed to be a normal family. My dad, my hero never gave up on me. Dad always told me I was kind of like him growing up, so he understood me best. Dad actually understood me better than I understood myself. I count my blessing everyday to still have my Dad by my side whenever I need to call on him. My Dad is the type of person someone can call on to ask a favor and instead of wondering if the answer is 'yes' or 'no', my Dad’s normal reply would be, ‘let’s see how we can do this the best way for you.’”