John J. Economos Obituary

John J.  Economos
John J. Economos

November 17, 1926 - July 8, 2021
Born in Des Moines, Iowa
Resided in Urbandale, Iowa
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John J. Economos, 94, passed away on July 8th, 2021. He was a resident at Glen Oaks Special Care Center in Urbandale after a recent move from Walnut Ridge Senior Living Community in Clive, where he lived since 2008.

John was born on November 17, 1926 in Des Moines, Iowa but was raised near Sparta, Greece after moving there with his mother upon the death of his father.

He was detained for several months in a prisoner of war camp during World War II, when Nazi detachments pillaged his mountain village and retained several hundred young men that were identified with the resistance movement. At the time of his release, his mother made the difficult decision to send her son to live with his uncle in Des Moines due to continued concerns for his safety. He was 17 years old at that time with no command of the English language.

John graduated from Roosevelt High School in 1948 and worked for his Uncle Steve at the Original Coney Island Restaurant, a downtown establishment founded by John’s father in 1919.

The flagship downtown location was a landmark lunch spot in Des Moines. Patrons were entertained by seasoned waitresses and their outcry of coded orders from across the dining room “Gimme eight on four, two with!” Menu items would quickly appear from the kitchen steam table that servers would grab by the armload.

Several Coney Island locations opened in the metro area during the 1970s, operated by John and his brother, Ted Velman, and their business partner, Jim Frangos.

John married Rose Ann Staikos on January 25th, 1953 in Des Moines and they were together for 57 years before Rosie passed in 2010. They were a perfect match and built a wonderful life together.

John was driven by a passion to build a better life, commitment to family, and his strong belief in achieving the American dream.

In retirement, John enjoyed cooking for friends, gardening, spending winters in Tucson, Arizona, and traveling the world with his beloved wife, Rosie. He was a fan of the Iowa Hawkeyes and was thrilled when his Chicago Cubs finally won the World Series in 2016.

His approach to life was well captured by his signature toast at the dinner table. “Every Day is a Celebration, and Every Meal is a Celebration of that Day”

John was a member of St. George Greek Orthodox Church, where he served several terms as Parish President. He was a Za-Ga-Zig Shriner and was an active member of AHEPA, serving as Chapter President and District Governor.

Those left to cherish his memory include sons, Tom (Nancy) of Urbandale, Steve (Jennifer) of Clive, and daughter-in-law, Alicia. He was a proud “Papou” to six grandchildren, Kristin, John (Jessi), Nick (Stephanie), Evan, Pete, and Alex. He is also survived by his brother, Ted Velman of Des Moines; sister, Mary Kanelos of Williams Bay, WI; and several cousins, nephews, and nieces. John was grateful for his close friend and companion of seven years, Wanda Humphries.

John was preceded in death by his father, John D. Economos; mother, Pauline Velman; stepfather, Tom Velman; his beloved wife, Rosie; and their son, Ted.

The family is grateful to the staff at Glen Oaks Special Care Center, Suncrest Hospice, and Walnut Ridge Senior Living Community for the attention they provided when John required additional care.

Visitation will take place at Iles Westover Chapel from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, July 13th, followed by a Trisagion Prayer Service at 7 p.m. Funeral Services will be held at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, July 14th at the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George in Des Moines. A burial service will follow at the Masonic Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George Foundation.





Westover Funeral Home
6337 Hickman Road
Des Moines, IA US 50322
Tuesday, July 13, 2021
5:00 PM - 7:00 PM
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Greek Orthodox Church of St. George
1110 35th Street
Des Moines, IA US 50311
Wednesday, July 14, 2021
10:00 AM
Masonic Cemetery
1550 48th Street
Des Moines, IA 50311
Wednesday, July 14, 2021
11:00 AM


St. George Greek Orthodox Church Endowment
35th & Cottage Grove
Des Moines, IA US 50312