Sheriff George Angelo Papantoniou

Published 2:42 pm Monday, February 5, 2024

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But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep that ye sorrow not, even as other which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14
On Saturday, the 3rd day of February 2024, the final chapter of Sheriff George Angelo Papantoniou’s amazing life concluded. George was 87 years old. His story began in Karlovaci Samos, Greece on October 16, 1936, the first child born to Angelo and Fotini K. Hiou Papantoniou. In addition to his parents, George was preceded in death by his beloved wife of 58 years, Deloris J. Smith Papantoniou, his son, Terry Papantoniou.
Many things defined George’s life. First was his strong will and will to survive. As a child, George contracted an illness that almost took his life, but his story was yet to be written. He and his family immigrated to America when George was fifteen years old and his home country of Greece was in the midst of a civil war, considered one of the first uprisings in a string leading to the Cold War. George arrived in America with no knowledge of the English language but that did not deter his will to learn and thrive.
George was a brave and patriotic man. In 1953, at the age of 17, George enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. He valiantly served in the Marine Fighter Attack Squadron in Korea. His service spanned from 1953-1956.
Upon his military discharge, George moved back to the states, where he met the love of his life, Deloris Smith, with whom he married and began a family. In 1971, George proved his business and culinary savvy, purchasing the legendary Lynnwood Hotel and Cafeteria in the historic downtown Elizabethton. George had a flare for cooking and every dish was extravagant and delicious.
George was a servant of his community. In 1974, after forging many business and personal relationships, George started a career in law enforcement, becoming a deputy under the leadership of then sheriff Harry Buckles. Like every other aspect of his life, George excelled and won the confidence of his fellow deputies and department personnel as well as the citizens of Carter County. In 1976, George won a two-year term as High Sheriff of Carter County and as a result of his tireless efforts and dedication to his job, he went on to earn another four-year term as Sheriff in 1978. George’s campaign was “Without Leadership You Have No Personal Freedom.” A slogan that he believed deep in his heart and George wanted that freedom for every citizen. During this time between the years of 1972 and 1984, George also worked as a volunteer at the Carter County Rescue Squad. George worked alongside his deputies, even in the backcountry of Pogi and Buck Mountain, where others had feared to go. George spearheaded the construction of the new jail in the early 1980s which was jokingly called “The Greek’s Palace.” Although George would run several other unsuccessful campaigns, he would never regain the position after 1982. Not one to sit down and quit, George then went on to work at the United States Postal Service until his eyesight prevented his work to continue and he retired.
George lived life as he was, bigger than life, entertaining friends and family and laughing boisterously and all the while, overcoming the seemingly impossible circumstances before him. He always held steadfast to his heritage and religion, attending Christ The Savior Greek Orthodox Church alongside his beloved wife, Dee, until her passing and his health prevented it.
George Papantoniou had a flair and personality that made an impression, as synonymous as his famous mustache. George will never be forgotten, and in December of 2017, the mayor of Elizabethton cemented his legacy with the Hometown Hero Award at the Elizabethton Courthouse. A memory that George was very proud of.
George leaves behind a legacy of courage and prestige in his surviving family: his son, John Papantoniou of Elizabethton; his daughter, Vangie Masson and husband Greg of Ohio; his grandchildren, Melina Emans and husband Greg of Ohio, Christina Papantoniou Treu and husband Torrin of Ohio and Philip Papantoniou of Ohio and their mother, Linda Papantoniou and Victoria Masson of Ohio, and Nick Papantoniou and wife BreAnna of Elizabethton and Nick’s mother, Donna Papantoniou; his new great-grandson, Luka Rhodes Papantoniou of Elizabethton; his great-granddaughter, Freja Treu of Ohio; and his sister, Joan and Angelo Karouzos of Ohio.
George’s many friends are invited to visit with the family to share memories between the hours of 5 and 8 p.m. on Thursday, February 8, 2024, in the Riverside Chapel of Tetrick Funeral Home, Elizabethton.
George’s life will be celebrated and honored at 11 a.m. Friday, February 9, 2024, at Christ The Savior Greek Orthodox Church in Bluff City with Reverend Father Stephen Mathewes officiating. The Carter County Sheriff’s Department will provide honors. George will be laid to rest beside his beloved wife at Happy Valley Memorial Park following his service. Military Honors will be accorded the DAV Chapter 39 Honor Guard. Active pallbearers will be officers with the Carter County Sheriff’s Department. Honorary pallbearers will be Wendell Treadway, former Sheriff John Henson and Brad Johnson. Those who prefer donations in lieu of flowers may make a monetary gift in memory of George to the Shop with a Cop Fund at the Carter County Sheriff’s Department, 900 E. Elk Avenue, Elizabethton, TN 37643 or Christ The Savior Greek Orthodox Church, 150 Elizabeth Ann Circle, Bluff City, TN 37618. The family wishes to thank Brian Fraley, Mike and Amanda Little and the Carter County Sheriff’s Department and their Honor Guard for their help with our Dad and his services. Also, to Dad’s caregivers, Carol, Cerissa and Betty, who took such great care of him. Words of comfort and memories may be shared with the family on our website at
Tetrick Funeral Home of Elizabethton is honored to service the family of Sheriff George A. Papantoniou. Office: (423) 542-2232. Service Information Line: (423) 543-4917.

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