Obituary of JAMES PAPPAS



April 14, 1942 - November 11, 2021


Suddenly, on the night of November 11, 2021, our beloved father, brother, papou, husband, and friend, Jim Pappas passed away. He is survived by his loving wife and best friend Barbra, his son Christopher (wife Diane, sons Benjamin and Matthew), his daughter Alexandra (wife Lisa, daughters Audrey and Georgia), his brother Chrys (wife Kaye), nephews Geoffrey, Todd and Jonathan, and niece Elizabeth, cousins Barbara, Melanie, and Stephanie, great aunt Becky, and other cousins. His mother Isabel and father Bill, aunts Chryse, Sophie, Evelyn, Mary and uncle Leo Kelekis passed on before him but were tremendously important loves and influences in his life.


The love of his life, Barbra, was truly his rock and his best friend. After a whirlwind 8 days of courtship, they were engaged and soon married in 1973, and rarely left each other’s side. Their dreams came true when they received the news that they were selected to adopt two children, Christopher and Alexandra who were the light of his life, and for whom he would do absolutely anything. He adored seeing their successes in dance classes and theatre performances, hockey and soccer games, and beyond. He was always there for them when they fell or needed help in any way, and there was never any question that he loved them with all of his heart.


Jim touched so many lives in his nearly 80 years, from his school days through his time at United College (now U of W), many decades of service to his Fraternity, Phi Delta Theta, his career in the fashion industry at Eaton’s, Ricki’s and Mannequin, his businesses Comfort and Joy and Night and Day, his years of helping out and eventually running Kelekis Restaurant with his mother, father and aunts, and finally as a very popular radio broadcaster for CJNU. He was also active on so many volunteer boards and committees, loved to plan events, help out friends in need, advocate for people who needed a helping hand, and give his time and energy to worthy causes.


Barbra and Jim were always there at every dinner party, gala ball, RMTC opening night, Fraternity reunion or formal, or any event with their friends, always immaculately dressed and the life of the party. Jim’s one of a kind laugh could be heard anywhere around the world, and his friends would immediately seek him out and receive a hug and his heartfelt joy to see them again.


Jim’s Fraternity experience as a member of Phi Delta Theta was very dear to him, and through it he made countless lifetime friends, introduced and matchmade for scores of couples (many of whom are still together), and was a singular driving force in the success of Phi Delt’s Manitoba Alpha Chapter. Consistently recognized as a uniquely successful Alumni group in one of the smallest chapters, Jim was instrumental in keeping everyone organized, on track and throwing the best events. Despite the delays of COVID, he had already planned much of the 90th anniversary reunion which will proceed in May 2022. He was an advisor and strong supporter of the Active Chapter, hosting recruitment and pledging and initiation events at his home, organizing and planning Formals, and mentoring leaders for decades. “Big Jimmy” or “Greek” as he was known, was truly a legend among the Phi Delts and will never be forgotten.


In recent years, Jim hosted a very popular radio show on Monday afternoons for CJNU, “A Class Act with Jim Pappas and Jim Snell”, in which he played all of his favorites and shared his memories of music, cinema, and theatre. He was a natural broadcaster, and his radio show and volunteering for the station were so important to him. Archives of his show are available on CJNU’s website; he loved to know how popular he was and how many people loved his show.


Jimmy was a devoted and beloved friend to what seems like half of Winnipeg and many more around the world. The outpouring of grief and messages of love and appreciation the family have received over the short time since his death has been humbling, heartwarming, and a huge honour to his memory. He was warm, and funny, and giving, and genuinely cared about each and every one of his friends. Many people have those who are merely acquaintances, but Jim had few. Most that knew him could consider themselves to be truly his friend, across every conceivable walk of life. He was the ultimate extrovert, and his friend list could consume multiple phone books.


It’s hard to sum up a life so well lived and loved, and we encourage everyone to remember him fondly in their hearts, and to live a life by his example. His selflessness and giving nature, warm and welcoming and genuine friendship, and true desire to make the world a better place are the stuff of legends. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to a charity or good cause that is important to you and which you think Jimmy would support, there are countless. Cancer has touched the lives of so many of his family and friends, so Cancer Care would be an excellent choice.


A private family ceremony has taken place, but subject to compliance with all provincial health orders, a celebration of life will take place sometime in the new year.


We will love you always.

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