William and Despina Leanos
William and Despina Leanos came from Agrinion, Greece to Annapolis in the early 1900’s. William and Despina got married in Baltimore. Together they operated a deli grocery shop on Calvert Street. Like many of the early Greeks they were involved with the handful of other Greeks who were in Annapolis. Gus said that his family was related to movie actress Jennifer Aniston, through his mother Despina Anastasakis Leanos:
William and Despina had 3 children, Constantine (Gus), Virginia and Katherine.
Virginia would marry a naval officer, Jack DeMayo and Katherine would marry Jimmy Kanelis from Baltimore who ran the Eagle Coffee Company. Jimmy would service many of the Greek restaurants in Annapolis with coffee after his marriage to Katherine.
William had a brother in Annapolis who ran a restaurant called Jim’s Corner, at the intersection of West St., Spa Road, and Amos Garrett Blvd. James Leanos whose wife’s name was Yiannoulou. They had seven children: Spiros, Constantine (“Big” Gus), Helen, Virginia, Fote, Pauline and Elizabeth.
William and his family lived on the 1200 block of McGuckian Street, where there were two neighboring Greek-American families within the same block: Agapides on McGuckian Street and Theodore Samaras family on McKendree Avenue. Despina and Gus Agapides had a daughter Anna who would marry Steve Nichols.
Constantine W. (Gus) and Marye Leanos
Gus Leanos was born August 28, 1924 in Annapolis,
Gus graduated from Annapolis High School in 1940, then subsequently joined the US Navy to serve our country during World War 2. Following is a photo of US Navy Sailor Gus Leanos at the Florida Bar, Rio de Janeiro, Argentina – 1947:
Gus grew up with many of the children of Greek families, like John Christo, Chris Samaras, John and Eva Alvanos, Evangeline and “Little” Nick Samaras of Dairy Queen fame, Nick Fotos and of course his seven Leanos first cousins. Gus was called “Little Gus” to differentiate him from his first cousin “Big Gus”, who was larger and older.
Marye Kantsamparis was born on February 10, 1923 in West Virginia. Her parents, Pete and Calliope Kantsamparis, were Greek immigrants who came to West Virginia from the island of Kos.
Marye and her sister Sara both came to Baltimore during World War 2 for work. Marye was one of three sisters from West Virginia who married local men and settled to live as lifelong Annapolitans: sister Margie had already been married Steve Plakatoris and Sara subsequently married Nick Samaras , after their introduction by Gus Leanos.
After their introduction by Margie, Gus to Mary were married in Annapolis. Gus and Marye K. Leanos wed in Annapolis on April 20, 1947:
As a World War 2 veteran, Gus was hired as a phone technician by C&P Telephone Company where he became a lifelong C&P employee, working for over 40 years rising through the ranks. Like many other sons on Greek immigrants, Gus did not want to go into the restaurant business.
Gus was a member of the Annapolis Elks Lodge, Sts. Constantine & Helen Greek Orthodox Church and the Annapolis Country Club. He enjoyed golf. Gus was very popular with the Annapolis Greek-American “boomer” generation youth, including coaching the boys’ Junior GOYA basketball teams in the 1950s-60s.Mary also started working at the telephone company and became an executive and retired with Gus after over 40 years of service. Gus and Mary were Godparents to many in the community including both John and Babba Donovan, Perry Lewnes and Spiro Lewnes’s son.
Marye was also very popular with and admired by the Greek-American youth of Annapolis. She was a well-known fixture at a poolside lounge at the bay Ridge Beach Club in the 1950s-60s.
Gus and Mary had a daughter Deborah, who was in the the same age group as Nick Pantelides and Mike Panos, and a year younger than John Pantelides, Ted Samaras, Nick Samaras, Peter Petros, Tom Kallis, Ted Siomporas, and Tina Panos. Joanne and Ted Siomporas. There were also a slightly younger group including Dottie Plakatoris; Andre, Annie and Irene Pantelides; Tony, Melanie and Effie Palaigos; Theano Panos, Nick Kallis , George Petros, Alan and Jeff Alexopoulos, Joanne Siomporas, Nick and Harriet Manis, and Debbie’s first cousins: Dottie Plakatoris and Karen and Maria Samaras.
Gus and Mary touched practically all these children over a 40 year span in Annapolis.
One of the greatest contribution that Gus and Mary Leanos made to our community was that they were heavily involved in the church and it’s organizations. Most of the Greek parents in Annapolis were involved in the long hours and days required to run a restaurant and did not have the time to take their children out. So Gus and Mary became the unofficial parents to a generation of children growing up in the 1950-1980’s period. In many cases they drove the cars and chartered the buses that took the teams to the different churches to play.
One of the greatest contribution that Gus and Mary Leanos made to our community was that they were heavily involved in the church and its organizations. Most of the Greek parents in Annapolis were involved in the long hours and days required to run a restaurant and did not have the time to take their children out. So Gus and Mary became the unofficial parents to a generation of children growing up in the 1950-1980’s period. In many cases they drove the cars and chartered the buses that took the teams to the different churches to play.
Gus was the basketball coach of the Senior and later Junior GOYA basketball teams and participated in playing baseball with the Greek team that played at Akiva Field on Constitution Ave. Gus and Mary would take the kids on field trips to different events including seeing the Harlem Globe Trotters at the Baltimore Civic Center.
Mary was not only the loudest supporter of these sports teams but was a Sunday School teacher for many decades. Mary was always recognizable as she wore a different hat to church each Sunday and was a great teacher. One of her students, John Pantelides, had the honor of being Superintendent of the Sunday School for 12 years and can testify that Mary was as outspoken and energetic as ever.
A man named Nick Zuras was going around to the parishes to set up Junior GOYAs. The Annapolis Junior GOYA was formed in at the house of Gus and Mary Leanos who volunteered to be advisors. John Pantelides, Nick Pantelides, Tina Panos, Mike Panos, Debbie Leanos, Peter Petros, Ted Samaras, Ted Siomporas, and Nick Samaras being some of the founding members.
Gus served on the Church Board and along with Mary were heavily involved in all church activities especially all the fundraising efforts from bake sales to helping at the Greek Festivals to calling Bingo. Gus and Mary were team captains that went out to raise money for the new church which resulted in the Hellenic Center being built in 1984. The Hellenic Center was later sold along with property donated by Jim and Zoe Moshovitis for $4.4 million which resulted in the new church being built debt free and a surplus.
Equally important as the new church was to Mary were the new Sunday School classes that were built on the second floor. Modern classrooms, instead of the wooden tables she taught on for over 40 years that were separated with partitions in the basement of the first church on Constitution Ave. The storage area for the Sunday School was a small space under the steps in the old church that Jim Mandris would always have to fix.
Annapolis was a small tight knit community. This core of early Greek immigrants and their children accomplished amazing things including the building of a 2 new churches and an earlier multi purpose building, the Hellenic Center. These people possessed a drive and a special commitment to keep growing the community and never being satisfied. However, just as important was the respect these early immigrants and their children and grandchildren earned from the larger non Greek Annapolis community. Simply put, he Greeks were admired and had a good reputation.
Daughter Deborah moved to Plainsboro, NJ, to marry Robert Haynes and raise three children.
Marye K. Leanos died July 5, 1998 and Gus Leanos died February 18, 2012.