Monday, March 10, 2014

Haralambos (Bobby) Tzanetatos: One of our Most Distinguished Global Greeks! Χρόνια Πολλά και Καλά!

Haralambos (Bobby) Tzanetatos
 Global Greek Businessman/Philanthropist

Haralambos (or Bobby as he prefers to be known) Tzanetatos, is one of our most amazing Global Greeks! 

Bobby left his native Sami in the recently earthquake stricken Ionian island of Kefallonia at the age of 16, in 1950 with one dream, one goal… to get enough money together to buy a car. That, he told me many years ago when we first met, was the only ambition he had when he went to Panama to join his uncle who was working there. He worked hard and got enough money to buy himself a car, but he did so much more than that.
Now one of Panama's wealthiest and most 'connected' citizens, Bobby, an astute and hard-working businessman has never forgotten his origins, his island, his people or his family values, remaining above all, true to himself, with enormous humility, generosity and a helping hand always extended to aid those less fortunate than he – a philanthropist in every sense of the word.

Influential, dynamic and forward thinking but characteristically low profile and unpretentious, Bobby, like so many of our Global Greeks, has put in a lot of time, effort and resources to ensure the Greek flag is flown with pride and honour in their part of the world. At the height of ex-President Noriega’s falling from grace, shortly before he was exiled, Bobby even spent a couple of days on the pretext of importing arms in containers marked as New Zealand Butter, simply because he was on the opposite side.

As Greece's Honorary Consul in Panama for many years now, he has used every single weapon he has to assist his home country and his countrymen when needed.  

Bobby has used the economic benefits he worked so hard to attain and was fortunate to amass to benefit the not-so-fortunate. He has contributed to many projects and charities in Panama and Miami, donating time and money and work behind the scenes for the benefit of Greece and all things Greek in that part of the world. He has donated the funds and the land for building the ATHENA  (ATENEA) Greek School in Panama and has also created the Museum adjacent to it.
Deeply religious and having offered a great deal to the Greek Orthodox Church, Bobby has been honoured with the title of Archon by the Patriarch of Constantinople. 

Given the special honour of hosting Bobby when he came to the other side of the world to meet his product suppliers, I took him on a tour of the city and took great pride in showing him around our city’s Greek Community Centre and of course our Greek Orthodox Church, Evangelismos tis Theotokou. I had the keys to the church as a committee member and he wanted to light a candle…  You can imagine the look on the face of the treasurer to find a couple of crisp 100 US Dollar bills in the pagari, when he opened it the next day.
When Archbishop Christodoulos of Greece was in Miami for the liver transplant he was going to get it was Bobby's house he was staying at and it was Bobby's cousin, the lifesaving transplant surgeon Andreas Tzakis who would perform that operation. Things didn't work out for him but that Christmas, Bobby came to Athens with Andreas Tzakis and went to see the ailing Archbishop in his home in Filothei.  
The next evening  Bobby, with his long-time friend and business associate, John Scurtis of Miami, held a small gathering really to honour Andreas Tzakis... We count ourselves lucky to have been among those invited to that function, simply because we were able to hear first hand the amazing stories of unheralded philanthropy from the people who had been the recipients...children, parents and others who had been touched by the magic hands of Dr Tzakis, the welcomed assistance of Bobby and of his close friends in Miami, John and Evangeline Scurtis, two wonderful people, two wonderful Global Greeks,  who have also made it their life’s work to willingly and generously help people in need. 

The Greek mother of a child who had been operated on by Dr Tzakis some years before told us how they arrived in Miami to be greeted by John and Bobby at the airport... at Bobby's request John introduced Bobby as his chauffeur! 

Sadly, life has not been as kind to the Tzanetatos family on a personal level… 10 years ago they lost their daughter Irmita in a freak road accident when she was only 21. 3 years ago their son-in-law, died while on holiday in Greece, and last year they lost another beloved daughter, Lucy. So much tragedy to people who have done nothing but good for their people, whether in Panama or in Greece.

In Greece and in Kefallonia, and Sami in particular, the open hearted generosity of Bobby Tzanetatos, who lets no call for help from his countrymen go unanswered, is well-known but not always recorded, as he is also a very private man working quietly and anonymously much of the time.

In Panama, apart from the Greek school and Museum, Bobby has contributed to many charities and philanthropic causes. He has established the Lucy Tzanetatos Neurological Foundation  and his latest project is the development of a giant hospital complex in Panama, a bio-feedback clinic in honour of his daughter Lucy doing bio-feedback studies and the Lucy Tzanetatos Home which provides free lodging, medical care, meals, clothing and activities for mothers who have very sick children in the hospital and have nowhere to stay. 

Bobby’s ethos and drive means that despite his personal tragedies he continues just as he has done for so many years, working hard and heavily involved in his numerous business interests, which are wide and varied, and encompass supermarkets, real estate and shipping, to name but a few. 

From us at Global Greek World, we want to thank him for all he has done for Hellenism and wish him a very happy nameday today. May he be blessed with many many more in the years to come! 

Χρόνια Πολλά και να είσαστε πάντα καλά!

At Global Greek World, We ♥ Greece...and it shows! 
© GlobalGreekWorld 2013 All Rights Reserved

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