John S. Mellekas (June 14, 1933 – June 2, 2015)

John S. Mellekas, 81 of Newport, RI, passed away on Tuesday, June 2, 2015 surrounded by his family at Newport Hospital.

Born in Newport on June 14, 1933, he was the son of Greek immigrants Stavros and Bessie Mellekas. He went to high school at Rogers High School and graduated in 1952. He went on to the University of Arizona on a football scholarship and earned a degree in Education. He was the No. 3 draft choice of the Chicago Bears in 1956 and went on to play professional football. While in Chicago he met the love of his life, Martha Tsopelas and was married on January 4, 1959. John’s NFL career lasted over eight years, where he played for the Chicago Bears (1956-1961), San Francisco Forty-Niners (1962) and the Philadelphia Eagles (1963). Following his NFL career he returned to Newport where he was employed by the Newport School Department as a Physical Education Teacher for 35 years, retiring in 1996. He also owned and operated the Kings Row and later the Odyssey Restaurant with his brother in-law and brother.

In 1974, he received Hugh McGowan Award for his contribution to sports and work with youth of Newport County and in 1976 he was inducted into the Providence Gridiron Club Hall of Fame. In 1986 he was inducted into the Hellenic Athletic Hall of Fame. In 2002 he was inducted into the City of Newport Sports Hall of Fame and in 2008 he was in the Inaugural Rogers High School Athletic Hall of Fame. He was a commissioner for the Newport Housing Authority. He was a former parish council member at St. Spyridon’s church and a member of the AHEPA.

John is survived by his wife of 56 years, Martha, his children Vickie Mellekas of Newport, Gia and Peter Harrigan of Portsmouth, Sofia and John Troy of Chicago, IL, Stavros and Kimberly Mellekas of Bristol, CT and Peter Mellekas of Newport; his sisters Ourania Kastritis and Maria (Steve) Kosmos of San Diego, CA; his grandchildren, Michael, Christina, and Andrew Troy; Cameron, Matthew and Julia Harrigan; Caroline, Susan and Johnny Mellekas; his godchildren, nieces, nephews, brother and sister in-laws, and cousins. He is preceded in death by his brother James Mellekas.

Funeral service will be held at St. Spyridon’s Church on Saturday, June 6 at 10:00 AM. Burial will follow at Middletown Four Corners Cemetery. Visitation will be held at O’Neill-Hayes Funeral Home, 465 Spring Street, Newport, Friday June 5 from 4:00-7:00PM and on June 6 at St. Spyridon’s Church from 9:00-10:00 AM.

In lieu of flowers memorial donations may be made to St Spryidon’s Church, PO Box 427, Newport, RI 02840 or to and James L. Maher Center, 120 Hillside Avenue, Newport, RI 02840.

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