John N. Aretakis of Manteca passed away peacefully at his home on Saturday, September 2, 2023, in the presence of his family. He was 91 years old.
His parents, Nick and Angeliki Aretakis, emigrated to the United States from their home village of Kampoi, Chania, Crete, in 1921. John was the youngest of four children, and he is predeceased by his sisters, Crisula and Harriet, and his brother, Mike. John was born in Walnut Creek, Ca., on October 27, 1931, and lived in several locations in northern California, as his father worked a variety of jobs to support the young family.
They eventually settled in Manteca in the 1930s, which was perhaps inevitable, as the small town and the nearby communities including Modesto, Ceres, and Turlock, was the home not only of many other families from Crete, but also close relatives of the Aretakis family who had emigrated not only from Crete, but from the village of Kampoi. It was in a close-knit atmosphere of family and friends that John was raised, and that became a central aspect of his life.
John was educated in Manteca schools, and graduated from Manteca High School in 1949, participating on the school’s track and field team as a shotputter. The Aretakis family were farmers, and continued this profession in Manteca, raising whatever crops were in demand. By the 1970s Nick Aretakis had relinquished day to day operations of the farm to his oldest son, Mike, who primarily managed the farms. John had, of course, worked on the family farms his entire life, but also worked a variety of other jobs in order to support his own young family, including for Swift Meats, Rainbo Bread, and as a truck driver. Following his older brother’s untimely death in 1978, John took over full management of the farms, and concentrated on growing grapes and almonds. He was a proud member of the Blue Diamond almond cooperative, and sold his grapes to several Central Valley wineries, including Delicato, Franzia, and Gallo.
John married Galatia (nee Chronakis) in December, 1963, and they raised three sons, Nick (named for his paternal grandfather), Alex (named for his maternal grandfather), and Michael (named for his uncle). A fourth son, also named Michael, passed away in infancy. The success of his sons as they found their professions and raised their own families was a source of great pride for John. He was keenly interested in the world around him, followed current events, and was always prepared to discuss the news of the day. John was a very enthusiastic traveler, making several trips with Galatia to Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, often with family friends or with other members of the Annunciation Greek Orthodox church in Modesto. But the travels that were most important to John were those that took him to visit family, whether it was to Vancouver, British Columbia to spend time with the family’s Chronakis relatives, to the Bay Area, or to Greece and Crete, where many Aretakis and Chronakis relatives still reside, all of whom mourn his passing. A tall, strong man who was not afraid to show his emotions, John worked hard his entire life to provide for his family, and indeed managed his farms well into his 80s, until he was physically unable to continue. He was seldom happier than when he was riding a tractor in his fields, irrigating his crops by moonlight, or delivering a truckload of his grapes to a winery. The only activity that brought him more happiness was spending time with his family, his relatives, and his friends, whether at a church event or at the dinner table, sharing food, stories, and memories.
John Aretakis is survived by Galatia, his wife of nearly sixty years, and his sons Nick wife Maria and their son, John, Alex wife Georgianne and their daughter, Giovanna, and Michael wife Joanna and daughters, Angelina and Alexis. His life is celebrated by them and by his nieces and nephews, in-laws, cousins, and a large extended network of family and friends in the United States, Greece, and Canada. May his memory be eternal.
Manteca (Calif.) Bulletin
Wednesday, September 13, 2023