“My uncle was a tremendous sports fan and passed his love of sports along to me.” — Local sports historian Greg Paspatis
Demetrios “Jim” Gadonas, a lifelong Alexandrian and son of the late “Mr. John” Gadonas, founder of the landmark Majestic Café on King Street, died Nov. 22 at Inova Alexandria Hospital. He was 78.
Born Demetrios John Gadonas on Feb 26, 1939 at Alexandria Hospital, Gadonas was the son of John D. Gadonas and Zoe Gadonas. He attended Alexandria City Public Schools, graduating from George Washington High School in 1957. During this time he was an avid participant in recreational youth leagues and high school sports.
“My uncle was a product of old Alexandria,” said Greg Paspatis, one of two surviving nephews. “He was a tremendous sports fan and passed his love of sports along to me.”
Gadonas attended Columbia Prep School in Washington D.C. prior to beginning work as a mail carrier for the U.S. Postal Service. In the early 1960s, he began a career of over three decades on Capitol Hill. Around 1961 he became a Capitol Police officer, serving until early 1976. He then began working for the Office of the Clerk in the U.S. House of Representatives, retiring from that position in 1995.
“He loved politics and how things worked on Capitol Hill,” Paspatis said of his uncle. “He never lost his fascination with how government functioned.”
Gadonas went on to work for about a decade with the Radisson Hotel in North Old Town. Previously, he served in the Virginia Army National Guard from 1962 to 1968. He went to basic training at Fort Jackson, S.C., and Signal Corps School at Fort Gordon, Ga.
Gadonas received a bachelor of arts degree in government from the University of Maryland in January 1972. For nearly 40 years he made his home in the Waynewood neighborhood of Fort Hunt. He was an avid follower of sports, running the gamut from organized college and pro leagues to golf, tennis, horse racing and boxing.
“I still remember my uncle piling my brother and me into his Austin Healey convertible just to sit outside the sold-out game at GW High School stadium when Joe Namath made his NFL debut in a 1965 preseason game against the Houston Oilers,” Paspatis said. “In 1969, he brought me to my first high school football game when Hammond won a national championship. He really loved sports, especially the local teams.”
In addition to his parents, Gadonas was predeceased by two sisters; Pauline J. Gadonas and Eugenia “Virginia” J. Gadonas, both of Alexandria. He is survived by his two nephews, Gregory G. Paspatis, and John D. Paspatis, both of Alexandria.
A funeral service will be held Nov. 30 at noon at Saint Katherine’s Greek Orthodox Church, 3149 Glen Carlyn Road, in Falls Church. Interment will follow at Ivy Hill Cemetery in Alexandria. Arrangements are being handled by Everly-Wheatley Funeral Home. www.everlywheatley.com