Thomas Chris Benis, husband, father and ‘papou,’ died on Oct. 18, with his family and loved ones by his side. Death resulted from leukemia complications and was quick and peaceful.
Born in Makrihori, Larissa, Greece, on July 12, 1931, Mr. Benis was the son of Christos and Evangeline Soumbeniotis. He was raised with three brothers and one sister in a small village and survived WWII and the Greek Civil War. At the age of 19, he left Greece, sailed to the United States via Ellis Island and — not knowing English — went to live with his uncle’s widow in Ely, Nev.
Mr. Benis obtained a GED while in the U.S. Army and then attended Utah State University, graduating with a degree in industrial engineering in 1961. He accepted a position with Boeing as an industrial engineer and relocated to Seattle. Within four years, he began purchasing investment real estate in the Bellevue area. One of his first purchases was the Island Terrace Apartments, in the East Seattle neighborhood, which he owned and managed until his death. During the Boeing downturn in the late 1960s, he left Boeing and started working as a real estate agent. A few years later, he got a broker’s license and opened his own real estate office, Belleway Realty. He was a well-known broker and investor in Bellevue, Mercer Island and other areas around the Eastside.
As a respite from real estate, Mr. Benis spent several seasons as captain of his salmon troller in Grays Harbor. Later, his love for boating took him on many overnight trips to Blake Island. The family resided on Mercer Island from 1985 until his death.
Mr. Benis is survived by his loving wife, Helen, of 48 years; son, Christopher Thomas Benis; daughter, Catherine Jaynes-Ducharme; son-in-law, Steve Ducharme; daughter-in-law, Penelope Conomos Benis; grandchildren, Kayla Mia and Thomas Christopher Jaynes, Thomas Christopher, John Alexander and George Nicholas Benis; sister, Vasiliki Koltchidas; and brothers, Michael, Costa and Telly, residing in Greece.
Memorial services have been held. Remembrances are suggested to the Greek Church of the Assumption Building Fund.