Ed Derwinski, one of America’s greatest philhellenes, died on Sunday, January 15, 2012. He was 85 years old. He was a Chicago Member of the US House of Representatives for 24 years, where he served as the top Republican (Ranking Member) on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and was involved in the Turkish Arms Embargo.
He continued to be a strong advocate for Hellenic issues and the Hellenic community in his subsequent positions as Undersecretary of State for National Security Affairs in the Reagan Administration and as America’s first Secretary of Veterans Affairs in the George H.W. Bush Administration. Even in retirement, he was an active advocate for Hellenism, serving until recently as Chairman of the Board of the Hellenic American Heritage Council (HAHC), an organization of major American and Greek companies working to help build stronger ties between the US and Greece.
He was like a brother to Andrew A. Athens, the former WWII veteran, steel magnate, President of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE), National Chairman of the United Hellenic American Committee (UHAC) and founder and President of Hellenicare. Derwinski was also very close to former US Senator Paul Sarbanes with whom he served in the US House of Representatives.
As the highest – ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, he played an important role on Hellenic issues. He played a key role in the history-making Turkish Arms Embargo. It was a Congressional override of the Nixon Administration’s refusal to adhere to American law, which required the termination of American arms shipments to any country that used them aggressively. His extraordinary devotion to the Hellenic community and his involvement was so deep that many considered him to be a Hellene.
Mass will be celebrated on Saturday, January 21 beginning at 11 a.m. at Holy Family Church (1080 W. Roosevelt Road, Chicago).
For more details, please see the obituary in the Chicago Tribune.