Birth date: August 4, 1912
Death date: July 13, 2012
Mr. Thomas Bitsas, 99, of Winston-Salem, passed away Friday, July 13, 2012 at Kate B. Reynolds Hospice Home. He was born August 4, 1912 in Athens, Greece to the late Spiros Bitsas and Efthemia Martinou Bitsas. Surviving are his wife Elizabeth C. Bitsas; a son, Thomas Bitsas, Jr. and wife Penny; and a daughter, Barbara A. Bitsas and partner Jeri A. Lollini; two grandsons, Christopher T. Bitsas and wife Leslie and John A. Bitsas and wife Corrie; three great-grandchildren, Ava, Adelynn and Ruby. Born in Athens, Greece, Thomas emigrated to the U.S. in 1920 with his family. They lived in New York City, where Thomas attended public school. He had a lifelong love for electronics and built crystal radio sets as a young boy. By his teen years, he was building 5-tube sets for the family. An excellent student, he graduated from Stuyvesant High School in New York City. Upon graduation in 1930, he was awarded the Steinmetz Scholarship, four years at Cornell University. With the hard times of the depression, he decided not to take the scholarship so he could help support the family. Instead, he attended City College of New York. Prior to World War II he worked for Majestic Radio Corporation as a production supervisor. After Pearl Harbor, he entered the Army Air Corps. Basic training at Fort Dix, NJ and Air Force training at Shallotte, NC, preceded 3 1/2 years in England, Tunisia, and Italy with the 51st Fighter Squadron as a Technical Sergeant. An expert in radio communications, he spent many hours in the cockpits of P-51 Fighters preparing the radios for combat. He was awarded the Bronze Star for Valor in Italy in 1944. He returned to work for Majestic Radio Corporation where he was named head of production. There he met Elizabeth Reichert, a fellow employee at Majestic. They were introduced socially by a mutual friend. The couple fell in love and were married in January 1950. The family moved from New York City to Franklin Square, NY in 1953. In 1955, Majestic moved production to Michigan. Thomas was then hired by the Civil Aeronautics Agency as a radio technician. The family moved to West Sayville, NY in 1956 where he was assigned to the CAA radio transmitting facility that broadcast air-route traffic weather information to transatlantic airline flights on 5 short wave frequencies 24 hours a day. The CAA later became the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). By the time of his retirement in 1976, Thomas had been named chief of the transmitting facility. After retirement and upon the birth of their first grandchild, Thomas and Elizabeth moved to Winston-Salem, where he lived the rest of his life. A devoted husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather, Thomas was an avid gardener, baker, shade tree mechanic, lifelong baseball fan, and do-it-yourselfer. He loved to bake Greek Easter bread, dinner rolls, and even bagels. His meat sauce is legendary. Most of all, he loved his family and brought many old world traditions to the younger generations, including his three great granddaughters. Married 62 years to Elizabeth, he lived a full and wonderful life with and for his family. A memorial service will be held at 11:00 a.m. Saturday, July 21, 2012 at Highland Presbyterian Church with Pastor Randy Harris officiating. The family will receive friends from 6:00 PM until 8:00 PM on Friday, June 20, 2012 at Hayworth-Miller Silas Creek Chapel. Online condolences may be made at www.hayworth-miller.com.
6:00 pm to 8:00 pm on Friday, July 20, 2012 at Hayworth-Miller Silas Creek Chapel 3315 Silas Creek Parkway Winston-Salem NC 27103 (map/driving directions)
11:00 am on Saturday, July 21, 2012 at Highland Presbyterian Church 2380 Cloverdale Avenue Winston-Salem NC 27103 (map/driving directions)