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Konstantinos “Gus” Vardakastanis

Konstantinos “Gus” Vardakastanis passed away in San Francisco on Friday, September 22, 2017 at the age of 57. Gus was a well-loved and well-known local San Francisco businessman and the owner of Gus’s Community Markets. His strong presence and deep sense of caring for his family, and his customers, who he treated as family, was sincere and long lasting.

Gus was predeceased by his father – Dimitrios Vardakastanis. He is survived by his mother – Eleni Vardakastanis, his wife – Georgia Vardakastanis and his two sons – Dimitri Vardakastanis (Penny) and Bobby Vardakastanis (Katerina), brother – Yianni Vardakastanis (Nitsa), sister – Angelica Skiadopoulos (George), nephews – Yianni Skiadopoulos (Lina), Dimitri Skiadopoulos, and niece – Eleni Vardakastanis (Achilleas), and four beloved grandchildren – Giorgia, Kostaki, Kosta, and Eva Vardakastanis.

Gus was born September 15, 1960, on the island of Zakynthos, Greece (Vasilikos).

Gus immigrated to San Francisco in 1976 at the age of 16, with his family where he found work at various produce markets.

In 1981, Gus decided to go back to the island where he met and wed Georgia on February 1, 1981. Together, they returned to San Francisco and in the summer of 1981, Gus and his father fulfilled their dream of opening their own produce market in the Haight. Four years later, they opened a second market in the Outer Sunset (Noriega Produce).

In the early 1990s, Gus and his sons, Dimitri and Bobby, who were actively a part of the business by then, moved locations to expand Haight Street Market and in 2011, added a full-service market to better serve the community Gus loved so dearly. His hard work was rewarded with extreme loyalty from the neighborhood and his work ethic was seen not only through his sons, but through the many employees that have been through the “School of Gus.”

In 2013, Gus and his sons started working on the development of Gus’s Community Market in the Mission, allowing them to serve yet another neighborhood in the city. This endeavor expanded on the vision of what Gus created over the past 30 years, with the same heart and passion for customer service, community and pride in quality products that he had applied to his other two markets.

Gus was the hardest working man everyone knew, but he was still able to find a balance between work and family. Recently he was able to let go of the reigns to his sons and long term employees, while still maintaining a presence at the store, in order to spend more time with his wife and young grandchildren. In Sonoma, Gus fulfilled one of his life long dreams of producing his own family wine and discovered his love and passion for growing his own food. He built a sanctuary for himself and his family, to enjoy the fruits of his labor and after 36 years of marriage, was able to spend more time with Georgia. Their love was an unconditional love that matured over the years into an enduring bond that was visible to all who knew them. A love like theirs is timeless.

Gus also took pride in his sons and the lives they have created for themselves and their own families. The relationship that Gus had with his two sons, Dimitri and Bobby was more than simply father and child. They were colleagues, business partners, and best friends. They had a mutual respect and truly depended upon each other. This trio was rarely seen apart and these memories will never fade.

In the last years we all saw Gus’s new found love of the land of growing his own produce and gardening, and rewarded himself for his lifelong hard work. Over his 30 years in San Francisco, he was still very connected to his family and community in Zakynthos. This year, for the first time, Gus was able to take his sons and their families on a once in a lifetime vacation to the island where he was born.

Everyone who met Gus loved him immediately, he had a strong presence and his connections were deep and long lasting. Family was always first, he always made sure everyone was taken care of, and he never held resentments towards anyone. He leaves a void in all our hearts that will never be filled. We can and will keep his spirit alive through the memories we all hold so dear to our hearts. Fly high Gus.


Serena De Bellis

Serena  de  Bellis,  age  88,  of   Sioux  Falls,  died  on  Monday,   February 6, 2017 at the Dow Rummel Village in Sioux Falls. According to Serena’s final wishes, she requested no memorial  service  to  be  held.    Inurnment  will  be  at  a  later  date  in   Graceland Cemetery, Madison, SD. Serena  Jane  (Rubin)  de  Bellis  was  born  in  Madison,  SD,   attended public schools in SD and in MA.  She was a violin  major, New England Conservatory, Boston, BM Magna cum  laude (1950), Simmons College, Boston, MLS (1956) and was  music  librarian  in  Quincy,  MA  (1952-57)  and  Portland,  OR   (1958-62).  She married Frank V. de Bellis of  San Francisco in  1962.  She was the curator of  the Frank V. de Bellis Collection  at San Francisco State University (1963-1989).  Serena was a  Visiting Scholar, American Academy, Rome (1987).  She was  Librarian Emerita since 1989. She was a member of  Executive Committee of  SF Chamber  Music Society; Board of  Directors, Book Club of  California;  member  of   Roxburghe  Club,  SF  Colophon  Club,  SF  Music   Library Association; Past President MLA of  N. Calif.  Produced  “Music of  the Italian Masters” weekly radio program (1968-83)  and produced public lectures, concerts, seminars, exhibitions  for the de Bellis Collection (1968-89).  Twice she was honored  by the Italian government for contributions to Italian cultural  history:  Commendatore (1976) and Ufficiale (1987).  In 1994,  she retired and moved to Sioux Falls. She  is  survived  by  her  nephew,  Richard  John  Kachel  of    Madison,  TN  and  her  niece,  Pamela  Jean  Kachel  of   Costa   Mesa, CA. Preceding  her  in  death  were  her  parents,  John  &  Luella;   husband, Frank and sister, Beverly Rubin Kachel. Weiland Funeral Chapel 320 North Egan Avenue Madison, SD 57042 (605) 256-2870


Elender Wall

International  artist  Elender  Wall  died  in  Berlin,  Germany,  on  November   15th due to complications from thyroid cancer. Ms. Wall graduated from City College of San Francisco before obtaining  two  bachelor's  degrees,  one  in  vocal  performance  from  the  San  Francisco   Conservatory  of  Music  and  another  in  physics  from  San  Francisco  State   University. During her time at the Conservatory, Ms. Wall studied Baroque  and Renaissance music. Among her many performances was a lead role in  the City College production of “Plump Jack” by Gordon Getty. Ms.  Wall's  musical  talent  took  her  around  the  world,  most  recently  to   Germany where she lived and performed as part of the opera community.  She  also  traveled  the  United  States  extensively  with  touring  companies   including the Sonos Handbell Ensemble. She released an album titled "The Poetry of Donald Rumsfeld" with fellow  San  Franciscan,  composer  Bryant  Kong,  in  2013  featuring  the  words  of   Donald Rumsfeld set to music. In  addition  to  her  musical  talents,  Wall  also  edited  and  co-authored  an   introductory-level physics textbook with her father, a physics instructor at  City College for 32 years. Ms. Wall is survived by her parents, Ellen Hegman Wall and Jesse David  Wall; her fiancé, Chris Hardaker; and her aunt, uncle and cousin, Jim, Joyce  and Carey Cauthen. A memorial commemorating the life of Elender Wall  was held in Berlin on November 19th. A memorial and public performance will be held in San Francisco January  28th, 1:00 pm, at the Diego Rivera Theatre, City College of San Francisco  Ocean Campus (Phelan Avenue at Judson Street). The program will feature  arias performed by visiting artists and colleagues of Elender from Germany.  A reception will follow. All are invited. Donations  in  Elender’s  memory  may  be  made  to  the  Performing  Arts   Education Center Fund, City College of San Francisco Bursar's Office, 50  Phelan Ave - Conlan Hall Rm. 103, San Francisco CA 94112. Among the contributors to this article is Shannon Cole, for  The Guardsman

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