James ‘Jim’ Chris Leventis, 77, enhanced his community with focus on ‘service above self’
James “Jim” Chris Leventis, of Columbia, died on Nov. 9, 2015, after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease at the age of 77. He was surrounded by family and friends and is finally at peace.
Jim was born on Feb. 23, 1938, in Columbia to Chris P. and Kathryn K. Leventis. Jim’s life was a testament to faith, family and community, and he will be sorely missed by all who knew him.
Jim is survived by Laura, his loving wife of 44 years and their four children, James Leventis (Ami), of Columbia, Laura McKinney (Jim), of Blaine, Washington, Todd Leventis (Meagan), of Murrell’s Inlet and Cristina Vasilis (Stefan), of Alexandria, Virginia. Jim was “Papou” to Maggie Leventis, Tristan, Brennen, William, Kathryn and Erin McKinney, Wade, Claire and Ellis Leventis, Lia Vasilis and Enzo Leventis Cox. Jim is also survived by his sister, Georgianna Paul (Dennis), of Washington, D.C.; his sister, Trula Wright (John), of Charlottesville, Virginia; his brother, George Leventis, of Greenville; his sister-in-law, Jean Cox, of Reston, Virginia and her son, Christopher Leventis Cox (Carissa); and many nieces, nephews and cousins.
Jim was preceded in death by his brother, Christopher A. Leventis.
Jim’s accomplishments and accolades are many and varied. As an active student at Dreher High School, he was a member of the 1956 state champion basketball team, student body president and represented Dreher as governor of Boys’ State. Jim was also elected student body president at the University of South Carolina (1960) where he received both his undergraduate and law degrees. Jim was presented the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award by the University for service above self-a guiding principle for Jim throughout his life.
After finishing law school, Jim embarked on a new career as a commercial lender with Citibank in New York working with the oil and natural gas accounts. After meeting and marrying his wife, Laura Todd, of Los Angeles, the couple moved from New York to Chicago where Jim became the vice president and general manager of Genway Corporation until his return to Columbia in 1974.
Jim set up his law practice in Columbia and began his long-standing and productive efforts to improve and enhance his community. He served in many roles, including co-founder of City Center Partnership (2002); chairman of Cities in Schools (1991-1993); member of the Richland One Board of School Commissioners (1986-1992); chairman of the Central Midlands Regional Planning Council (1984); chairman of the Greater Columbia Convention & Visitors Bureau; president of the Parish Council, Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church; president of Indian Waters Council of the Boy Scouts of America (1983-1985); president of the Columbia Rotary Club (1982); president of the University of South Carolina Alumni Association (1981); and as a member and chairman of Richland County Council (1976-1984).
During these years, Jim continued his involvement with banking as president and chairman of Republic Bank before a run for U.S. Congress in 1988. Jim realized a dream with the founding of First Community Bank in 1995 where he served for 15 years as chairman of the Board. He retired in 2009 as chairman emeritus continuing to provide advice, mentorship and enthusiasm until his last days.
Jim’s awards and recognitions include membership in the Richland One Hall of Fame (2011); the Richland County Bar Association’s Matthew J. Perry Civility Award (2004); the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce Ambassador of the Year (1988); and the Boy Scouts of America Distinguished Eagle Scout Award (1985), but his proudest accomplishment was always his family. He was a devoted husband, father and grandfather who always had time for family and friends. Jim was a consistent and supportive figure at his children’s sporting events, ballet performances and scouting activities and a faithful member of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church.
The Leventis family would like to thank some special people who helped to care for Jim in his last years: Gale with Senior Matters; caregivers Robert and Cassandra; therapists Catherine and Jennifer; and Wendy, Andre, Bea, Nashelle and Victoria at Life Care of Columbia.
Visitation will be held from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12, 2015, at the Main Street Sanctuary at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, 1931 Sumter St., Columbia. Visitation will be followed by a Trisagion service from 6:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. The funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, Nov. 13, 2015, at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church with interment at Greenlawn Memorial Park.
Memorials may be made to Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, 1931 Sumter St., Columbia, SC 29201; Indian Waters Council of the Boy Scouts of America; or the Columbia Parkinson’s Support Group.
Jim was well known for his many stories and favorite poems, but he was perhaps best known for ending long meetings with one simple phrase that shall close this tribute, “It is time for me to go now and feed the pigeons.”
Please leave online condolences for the family at Dunbar Funeral Home.
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