Today’s Obituaries—John Katsaros, 97, World War II Hero

(File photograph.)

(See earlier story.)

John Katsaros.

John Katsaros, 97, of Haverhill, passed away on Saturday, January 9, 2021 at Beverly Hospital.

He was born in Haverhill on July 6, 1923, the son of the late Speros and Helen (Christos) Katsaros.

John was a graduate of Haverhill High School Class of 1942. After graduation he proudly served our nation during World War II in the Army Air Corps on a B17 bomber based in Deenethorpe, England. He was shot down over Reims, France and was taken prisoner by the Gestapo and later escaped to freedom. John was a Purple Heart recipient. After the war, John received his bachelor’s degree from Boston University. He owned and operated Katsaros Realty and Haverhill Finance.

John was involved with many organizations. Most notably, John was past president and longtime member of Haverhill Kiwanis, Haverhill Country Club and the Holy Apostles Greek Orthodox Church. He served on boards of Historic Haverhill, AHEPA, Haverhill YMCA and Linwood Cemetery. John was the longtime president of the Air Forces Escape and Evasion Society. For 27 years John was the voice of Haverhill Hillies football on WHAV radio.

In 2011 the French government awarded John the Chevalier of the Legion of Honor medal for what was cited as “your personal precious contribution to the United States role in the liberation of our country during World War II”. John also wrote a book entitled “Code Burgundy - The Long Escape” detailing his service during WWII. He spoke at hundreds of locations in connection with his book over the years deriving great pleasure speaking to the public about his adventures. John's catchphrase from his book and speaking engagements was "Cherish your Freedom".

A lifelong New England sports fan, John was honored by the Boston Celtics in 2016, as well as the Florida Panthers in 2019 for his exploits during the war. John had a zest for life and loved his family, people, golf, skiing, tennis, sports and history.

In December 2019, John was one of 17 World War II veterans who traveled to France, Luxembourg and Belgium to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge.

John is survived by his loving wife of 62 years, Mary (Vanites) Katsaros. his two children Laurie Katsaros Sirois and her husband Michael L. of Amesbury and Lynne (Katsaros) Miller and her husband Christian of Darien, Conn. He was the loving Papou to Caroline Miller (Steven Gahl), Craig Miller, Cameron Miller (Remy Peace), Corey Miller, and grandpups Willow and Dash. He also leaves behind brother-in law James (Nancy) Vanites, sisters-in-law Theodora Lebares and Effie Katsaros as well as several nieces, nephews and numerous friends.

John was predeceased by his siblings, former HHS Principal Sotiris Katsaros, former Haverhill Mayor George Katsaros, S. Charles Katsaros, Ann Zeihl and Madeline Alphas.

Funeral Services were private with burial in Linwood Cemetery. Arrangements are by the H.L. Farmer and Sons Funeral Homes and Cremation Services, Haverhill and Bradford.

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