A tribute to George Papantoniou

Published 12:52 pm Friday, March 22, 2024

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To the Editor:
Early last month Carter County lost a citizen who was an immigrant from the Greek Island of Samos. George Angelo Papantoniou was 87 years old and had packed a full life into those years.

I lived in the Atlanta area during most of his years as sheriff. I was able to keep up with some of his exploits by reading about him in the newspaper. When I returned home, I became his friend because I mastered his Greek accent.

George was from the small island of Samos, population now of about 44,000 citizens. The island is very near the coast of Turkey and just south of the island of Patmos where the Bible book of Revelation was written. The family left Samos when George was 15 due to a civil uprising.

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George enlisted in the United States Marines by falsifying his age. 

After his military service he married a local girl and moved to Elizabethton. He bought the cafeteria portion of the Lynnwood Hotel from Teddy Sicos. Terry was known for his famous corned beef and cabbage.

George later went into law enforcement and served six years under the slogan “Without leadership, you have no personal freedom.” According to his friend, Bryan Burleson, George was fearless and when George invited Bryan to ride with him to Buck Mountain, Bryan answered “No, no, no, no.”

After retirement from the U.S. Post Office I was on a call list that George had developed. I always enjoyed his knowledge and insight on local affairs.

George leaves a daughter and a son, John, who shared his father’s passion for cooking fancy meals.


Charles VonCannon