Leo Louchios, an adviser to Jesse White and Alexi Giannoulias and Greektown staple, dies at 66

Mr. Louchios was a behind-the-scenes giant in the Greek community and a staple in city, county and state politics for more than two decades.

SHARE Leo Louchios, an adviser to Jesse White and Alexi Giannoulias and Greektown staple, dies at 66
Leo Louchios

Leo Louchios

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Leo Louchios seemingly knew everyone in Greektown.

And the Greek community — along with an innate ability Mr. Louchios possessed to get stuff done — helped pave the way for him to play an important behind-the-scenes role in city, county and state politics for decades as a top adviser to Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White and his successor, Alexi Giannoulias.

“Ever since I was much younger, he was always the guy, not just in the secretary of state’s office, but in the Greek American community, he was one of our leaders and someone everyone knew,” Giannoulias said.

Mr. Louchios died Aug. 3 of a heart attack. He was 66.

He found refuge along North Halsted Street after being forced out of his home in Cyprus after the Turks invaded and claimed part of the island nation in 1974.

Mr. Louchios, a Cypriot of Greek descent, embraced the United States, viewed former President John F. Kennedy as a role model, and inserted himself in politics by volunteering on the presidential campaign for Michael Dukakis in 1988, which was headed up in Illinois by Michael Bakalis.

Bakalis, a former Illinois comptroller, later introduced Mr. Louchios to White as a hard worker with strong ties to the Greek community who could be an asset. White, who was serving as Cook County recorder of deeds, hired Mr. Louchios.

Over the years, White and Mr. Louchios became close friends. They twice traveled to Greece together and attended Yanni shows when the Greek musician was in town. Mr. Louchios knew Yanni and got them backstage passes.

“I miss him tremendously,” said White, who also counted Mr. Louchios as a key fundraiser and liaison to the Greek community.

White said Mr. Louchios was always loyal to his homeland — a fact that explained something of a mystery on White’s office desk.

White would regularly find that someone had turned upside down a model airplane that he kept in his office. The plane was a gift from a Turkish ambassador.

“I finally figured out it was Leo, and I’d tell him we should figure out how to live in peace and harmony with one another,” recalled White.

Mr. Louchios founded the Chicago Greektown Educational Foundation, which provides resources to schools for Greek language education.

“He’s leaving us with a huge void and shoes to fill. There’s no one like Leo,” said Andreas Koumi, president of the Greektown Chamber of Commerce.

“You almost felt like he was a regular everywhere because of how welcome he was,” said Endy Zemenides, executive director of the Hellenic American Leadership Council, an organization Mr. Louchios helped found.

“The stakeholders in Greektown loved fighting with each other, and Leo was a consensus builder, getting the community to come together to say, ‘We support this,’ ” Zemenides said.

Mr. Louchios, a massive Cubs fan, played a role in everything from beautification projects of Greektown to helping organize the Taste of Greektown.

“You often hear in sports about the guy who was the glue player on the team, that’s who Leo was. Leo was the glue,” Zemenides said. “And he had a keen sense of knowing how all the pieces fit, who was who, which was the right call to make, and knowing when somebody needed a pat on the back and knowing when somebody needed a kick in the pants.”

He was also deeply involved with the 27th Ward Regular Democratic Organization, which was headed by White at the time.

“He was really focused on the community and politics, but the one thing that superseded all that were his kids,” said Bob Yadgir, a friend and former colleague.

Mr. Louchios is survived by his daughter, Chrystala Louchios. and son, Alexander Louchios, and stepdaughters Elizabeth Pritts and Veronica Webb.

Visitation is scheduled for 9 a.m. Thursday. A funeral service will begin at 11 a.m. at St. George Greek Orthodox Church, 2701 N. Sheffield Ave.

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