Xenophon L. Papaioanou ’54 died on November 25, 2022, in Concord, New Hampshire.
(The following was provided by the Concord Monitor on November 28, 2022)
Concord, NH – Dr. Bob Papaioanou, the son of Greek immigrants whose distinguished career as a physician spanned private practice and emergency rooms in small town New England and the highest peaks of corporate America, and who was a beacon of strength for his family even as he confronted his own medical afflictions, died November 25th at Hospice House in Concord, New Hampshire, with his wife and daughters by his side. He was 90 years old.
Dr. Papaioanou, who had lived in New Hampshire for more than 30 years, was born Xenophon L. Papaioanou on July 20, 1932, in Springfield, Massachusetts. His parents, Vasilike (Legeros) and Leonidas Papaioanou, known as Vicki and Louis, wanted an American-sounding sobriquet for their son. When his mother heard a neighbor summoning her own son home for supper with shouts of “Bobby!”, the nickname search was over.
Dr. Papaioanou attended Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine for two years before transferring to American International College in Springfield to be closer to his family. In 1952, he was approached by Lola Kamaros, a fellow AIC student who had been dispatched as an envoy by a girlfriend who was interested in dating the handsome Greek undergrad. Yes, he knew of her friend, Bob told Lola, “but who are you?” It was an encounter he would recall with a smile until the final days of his life, 69 years after he and Miss Kamaros were married.
After college, Tufts Medical School beckoned and the newlyweds were off to Boston. Dr. Papaioanou thrived at Tufts and completed his residency at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in the city’s Brighton neighborhood. The Greek Orthodox doctor was something of a novelty at the Catholic facility, so much so that a confused nun admonished him for missing Mass. It was also at St. Elizabeth’s where, in 1957, Mrs. Papaioanou gave birth to the first of the couple’s four daughters.
After his residency, Dr. and Mrs. Papaioanou moved their young family to a Revolutionary War-era house on the Merrimack River in Amesbury, where he went into private practice as a general practitioner and established deep and lasting friendships across northern Essex County. Patients found in Dr. Papaioanou a caregiver of profound humanity and good humor, qualities that defined the arc of his life. The Papaioanous eventually moved to nearby Haverhill, where Dr. Papaioanou served as director of Emergency Medicine at Hale Hospital and, years later, as medical director of Whittier Rehabilitation Hospital.
In 1974, Dr. Papaioanou’s career went in a new direction, when he began working for the financial conglomerate Prudential, initially based out of the Prudential Tower in Boston and later, as Vice President and Medical Director, at company headquarters in Newark, New Jersey. Fate intervened in 1982, when he was diagnosed with relapsing remitting Multiple Sclerosis. As with all challenges in his life, Dr. Papaioanou faced his diagnosis with fortitude and no complaints, concerned only with the impact on his family.
Neither MS (fortunately his case was comparatively mild) nor the Alzheimer’s disease Dr. Papaioanou would endure much later dimmed his enthusiasm for life and all its wonders. He loved dogs, especially his German Shepherds. He was an accomplished painter and photographer, hobbies he passed to his children and grandchildren. And, from his Datsun 240Z to his Boston Whaler to the occasional motorcycle, he had an irrepressible love of speed and fresh air. By any measure, he was a renaissance man, though his humility was such that he would have scoffed at the term.
In the twilight of his life, long after he put his daughters through college, long after he cared for his parents and mother-in-law, and long after he taught his grandchildren how to fish, the center of Dr. Papaioanou’s universe remained his beloved wife, Lola. From their early courtship in Springfield, when he struggled to take her out because he couldn’t get a Saturday night off from his job tending bar at The Welcome Inn (“there are six other nights in the week”, said his boss, who also happened to be his father) to gingerly slow dancing to Willie Nelson in old age, their love story was a triumph; illness never took away his sweetness and generosity. “The best thing I ever did,” he told his grandchildren at his 90th birthday party, “was marry your grandmother.” As go the lyrics of their favorite Willie Nelson song, “If I had my way, we would never grow old.”
In addition to his wife of 69 years, Lola Kamaros Papaioanou, Dr. Papaioanou is survived by their daughters, Maria Papaioanou Gray, Vicki Papaioanou Murphy, Iris Papaioanou Hardin, Amy Papaioanou Moffett, and their partners; their grandchildren Jack Gray, Rose Moore, Caitlin Gertsev, Krista Murphy, Riley Murphy, Louis Roberts, Adam Roberts, Madeline McGonagle, and step-grandchildren Sarah, Laura, and Philip Hardin, and Caleb Moffett. Dr. Papaioanou is also survived by several great-grandchildren and many nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his parents, mother-in-law Mary Kamaros, sister Helen Misogianes, several sisters-and-brothers-in-law, nieces and nephews, and dear friends.