A loving wife has lost her devoted husband and companion. Their children and grandchildren have lost a doting paterfamilias. A community has lost a man of limitless kindness, humor and charm. And Heaven now welcomes a gentle soul with a heart filled with laughter.
William C. “Bill” Crassas departed this life in the early hours of May 5, 2020. He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Joann Yianitsas Crassas and their daughter Athanasia “Sia” Crassas Ruppert, son-in-law Tim Ruppert, and grandchildren Elyse, William and Gregory Ruppert, all of Cincinnati, Ohio. His passing is also mourned by his son Constantine “Dean” Crassas of Houston.
Bill Crassas was born in Washington, DC on February 23, 1928, during America’s Great Depression. He was the youngest of three, including his two sisters Dorothy and Gloria, born to Constantine “Grando” and Athanasia “Celia” Kyriakopoulos who emigrated from Greece to the US following the Turkish invasion of their homeland. Upon arrival at Ellis Island in 1913, Bill’s father adopted his mother’s maiden name as his surname, opening the first chapter of the Crassas legacy.
As his entrepreneurial father explored businesses opportunities that included a restaurant, a car wash, and a commercial real estate enterprise, a young Bill Crassas pursued his studies and an assortment of recreational pastimes. To fuel his passion for jazz music, he found work in a record store and later enjoyed a friendship with the family of Ahmet Ertegun, founder of Atlantic Records. At Washington’s Central High School he put his artistic and journalistic talents to work for the school newspaper, penning a weekly column entitled “Swimming in Molasses with Wild Bill Crassas”.
Following his graduation from high school, and prior to attending George Washington University, Bill enlisted in the United States Armed Forces and was stationed at Bolling Air Force Base, near his family home. Although the combat days of World War II had ceased, the need for capable service men and women continued and Bill’s command of foreign languages connected him to the US Department of State and their Refugee Relief Program. He was sent to Greece to assist with the needs of thousands of wartime refugees, working in support of the peace time mission of the CIA.
Bill’s engaging wit and distinguished manner made the handsome soldier both a popular host and much sought after dinner guest and he enjoyed life to its fullest. After three years in Greece, the State Department Foreign Service assigned him to Italy, where he added Italian to his mastery of language skills before his relocation to New York City a year later.
Upon his return to the US, Bill declined an opportunity to join the CIA and instead took an executive position in his family’s shipping supply business, Atlantic Steamers Supply, Co., with 13 offices in major port cities of the US and Canada. During his nearly four decades of service to that enterprise, Bill’s courtesy and generosity earned him the respect and loyalty of his employees and business associates worldwide.
As Bill traveled between offices in New York, London and Athens, his business and social connections grew, eventually opening the door for an introduction that would change his life in a way he had never imagined.
For years, a business associate had tried unsuccessfully to introduce him to a remarkable young lady from Beaumont, Texas. When Bill finally met Joann Yianitsas, he was immediately smitten and the courtship that followed is the stuff of romantic legend. In 1961, Bill opened a branch of his family’s shipping enterprise in Houston, and intensified his pursuit of this beautiful, accomplished woman. Brushing aside suitors from Athens to Hollywood, he enlisted the help of his CIA colleagues in order to finally win her hand.
For years thereafter, they traveled the world, rubbing elbows with titans of business and industry, high ranking government officials and a colorful collection of bon vivants. Bill was appointed Honorary Consul to Cyprus and together, he and Joann served on a variety of charitable and philanthropic organizations.
In the course of the life he built with Joann, they raised a family, conquered individual battles with cancer, and became welcomed guests at galas and fundraisers in their adopted hometown of Houston.
An accomplished man of service and faith, Bill Crassas recalled with fondness his undergraduate days at George Washington University and the fellowship of his Sigma Chi fraternity brothers. With his move to Houston, he served as a Reserve Deputy with the Harris County Sheriff’s Department, played an active role in the congregation of the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral, served as President of the Hellenic Professional Society of Texas and was a member of the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA).
The Crassas family expresses their thanks to his caregivers from Texas Plus Home Health, Dignified Nursing, and Aegis Senior Care, along with their gratitude to Dr. Frank Fosella and his team at M. D Anderson Hospital. They gratefully acknowledge the care and service of the health care professionals at the Katy VA Clinic, the Baylor-St. Luke’s Kirby Glen Senior Clinic and A*Med Community Hospice.
The Crassas family also thanks Ms. Pureza Silva, who provided homecare service during the final chapter of Bill’s life.
Bill’s family invites you to join them in salute of the adventurous life of this proud son, husband, father, grandfather, soldier, patriot, diplomat, business leader and servant of mankind.
Funeral Services will be held on Tuesday May 12, 2020 at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral at 3511 Yoakum Blvd. in Houston, Texas 77006.
9:00 AM Visitation
10:00 Funeral Service
Interment to follow at Forest Park Cemetery on Westheimer Rd.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the MD Anderson Cancer Center or the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral in memory of William C. “Bill” Crassas.
May his memory be eternal.
Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral
3511 Yoakum Blvd., Houston TX 77006
M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Development Office
6900 Fannin Street, Houston TX 77030