The Trisagion prayer service will be held at Callahan-Edfast Mortuary, Grand Junction, at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 26, and the funeral service will be at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 27, at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, Grand Junction. There will be no graveside service. The body will be sent to Illinois for burial in a family plot.
He was born Oct. 25, 1917. Mr. Velon is one of a distinguished group of recipients of the St. Romanos Medal from the National Forum of Greek Orthodox Church Musicians, of which he was a charter member. His lifetime work of transcribing over 10,000 hymns of the Eastern Orthodox Church from the Greek Byzantine to Western staff notation is just one of the contributions which earned him national honor, besides his service as an instructor of Byzantine chant and as a founding board member and president of the Diocese Choir Federation in Chicago.
John's career at John Deere and Company, Moline, spanned 44 years in tool design and later in management. He was well known as a musician who could play any stringed instrument. His favorite was singing and strumming Greek folk songs on the bouzoukee. In his youth he was the Olympic Champion of Greece in high jump, broad jump and pole vault, and was slated to represent Greece in the 1936 International Olympics in Germany. He emigrated to America instead.
John and Mary were members of St. George Greek Orthodox Church in Rock Island, where John served as choir director, head chanter and parish council president for numerous terms. More recently they were members of Assumption Greek Orthodox Church in East Moline, which John and Mary had both attended as children.
John was devoted in service to his church, having begun chanting at age 11 in Kalamata, Greece, and retiring at age 91 as Protopsalti at St. George and Assumption. His biography and his music, available for purchase on a searchable CD, can be viewed at www.stgeorgepublishing.org
He is survived by his wife of 75 years, Mary Kondos Velon; and his daughters, Dr. Demetra Velisarios Jaquet, Grand Junction, and Georgia Jo Van Dam, Pacific Grove, Calif.; and by six grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren; also his brothers, Tom Velon, Plano, Texas, and Kosta Velisaris, Kalamata, Greece.
He was preceded in death by his sister, Dina Mekus, East Moline; and brother, Nick Velisaris, Chicago.
Memorial donations may be made to Hospice and Palliative Care of Western Colorado, 2754 Compass Drive, Grand Junction, CO 81506; St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, 3585 N. 12th St., Grand Junction, CO 81506; or Central Orchard Mesa Fire Protection District, 3253 B l/2 Road, Grand Junction, CO 81503.
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