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GreekReporter.comDiasporaGeorge Korkos, "One of the Great Hellenes of America," Laid to Rest

George Korkos, “One of the Great Hellenes of America,” Laid to Rest

George Korkos
Archbishop Elpidophoros officiates the funeral of George Korkos. Credit: Mike Manatos

The funeral Dr. George Korkos, a renowned plastic surgeon and the Greek-American co-founder of the Milwaukee Bucks, took place last Friday at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Milwaukee.

The funeral was officiated by His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America and His Eminence Metropolitan Nathanael of Chicago.

As Archbishop Elpidophoros so beautifully said, Korkos was “One of the great Hellenes of America, and one of the great human beings of our time…to thousands upon thousands around the country and around the world, he was the shining example of what it means to be Greek, and to be a person of the highest human values.”

The head of the Greek Orthodox Church in America added: “There is nowhere you can go in the Greek-American community – from coast to coast, and not hear his name. Spoken of with much appreciation. With thankfulness. With kindness. With a smile. And with unrelenting respect.”

“For if George was anything, he was a person who loved his fellow human being. His concern for others manifested in his charitable works and giving, and in his devotion to helping others through his remarkable medical talent and skill. His spirit was indomitable. His charm irresistible. His generosity indefatigable. He was a king in this life, reigning over his realm with love and compassion, and always with consideration for others,” Elpidophoros said.

Before Giannis Antetokounmpo there was Dr. George Korkos

“Before Giannis [Antetokounmpo] there was another Greek. That was me, Dr. George Korkos,” the founding owner of Milwaukee Bucks had told Greek Reporter with a big grin on his face as he showed the NBA Championship ring he was still proudly wearing almost five decades after his team won the NBA title.

Korkos, a proud Greek-American, was at the helm of the Bucks when the club wrote the most glorious page in its history by winning the ‘71 championship, thanks in great part to Kareem Abdul Jabaar, whom he describes as “probably the finest basketball player that ever lived,” as well as Oscar Robertson.

Dr. George Korkos: Basketball fanatic and plastic surgeon

Korkos, who was a successful plastic surgeon, used to describe himself a “sports fanatic,” and always mentioned that due to his 5’6″ height (1.67 m) he couldn’t play professional basketball himself. “I wasn’t even tall enough to be the trainer, but I loved this sports game,” he said.

With his childlike enthusiasm for the game, he was among those who helped acquire the Milwaukee Bucks franchise on January 22, 1968. “We were so fortunate to get that franchise. And we got it because of persistence… Once we got it, we were ‘green,’ but we were growing,” Korkos had stated to Greek Reporter.

The Milwaukee Bucks — with those two stars and a talented cast of role players — would go on to win 66 regular-season games in the 1970-1971 season and cruise to the Championship, winning 12 of 14 playoff games, including a 4-0 sweep of the Baltimore Bullets.

Basketball pundits consider that Bucks team as one of the most dominant in the entire history of the NBA.

“100% Greek, Greek-American”

Korkos’ parents were born in the Peloponnese Peninsula, his father near Patras and his mother in Sparta. His Greek roots and love for Hellenism pushed him to co-found The National Hellenic Society, an association of Greek-American leaders, visionaries, and philanthropists who perpetuate and celebrate their homeland’s rich heritage in a multitude of ways.

Through the support of programs that foster the preservation of Hellenic heritage in the United States, The National Hellenic Society strives to be a beacon for the promotion, understanding and appreciation of Hellenic heritage in the United States.

The Greek-American from Milwaukee was also an integral part and a Trustee of the National Hellenic Museum in Chicago. “He gave generously of his time and treasure and remained an active participant in the strategic planning for the future of the museum,” noted National Hellenic Museum Chairman John P. Calamos Sr.

“Dr. Korkos was an inspiration to me and to our community to join together and celebrate our heritage and be together. He was a loving father, papou, and husband. He was my friend and he will be missed,” stated Calamos.

Dr. George Korkos served on prominent medical boards

Korkos had served as the President of both Plastic Surgery Associates and Rejuva Skin Care & Laser Center for years.

He also served as Associate Clinical Professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee and was a Chairman and Member of the Business Advisory Board at Sleep Holdings, Inc. since September 2007.

Dr. Korkos was also a Director at Fibrocell Science, Inc. since July 2010, and served as a Member of the Advisory Board of Skinvisible Inc.

In previous years, he had served as a Scientific Advisory Board Member of the Cellgen Company, the Sleep Holding Company, and the Skin Visible Company.

He had been a member of numerous prestigious medical societies, as well as an experienced academic lecturer and author, and had presented on a variety of plastic and reconstructive surgery topics at meetings of regional and national medical associations in the United States.

During his career, Dr. Korkos had earned a number of humanitarian awards, including the Outstanding Distinguished Alumnus Award for the Medical College of Wisconsin.

He was also honored with the prestigious Hellene Award and the Ellis Island Award in New York.

Asked about regrets in life, the late Greek-American had said in his last interview to GR:

“If you asked me ‘George, what would you do if you’d do it over again?’ I would reply that I wouldn’t change my lifestyle at all. I love people, I care for them… Fortunately, we Greeks are lucky!” Korkos says.

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