Petros I. Tsiros
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Petros I. Tsiros was born in Limassol in September 1904 and died in May 1984. His father was Ioannis Tsiros, a well known contractor, who was responsible for the construction of Limassol's water tower, a pioneering and advanced project at the time. His mother was Sofia Tsiros, a very respectable and religious Christian woman from the village of Lysi, and was known to be a relative of Grigoris Afxentiou family. Later in life she became a head nun at Ayios Georgios Alamanos monastery, where she is buried .
Petros I. Tsiros was a very well known and respected landowner and a businessman in Cyprus and probably one of the first large scale land developers on the island. But what he will mostly be remembered for is for his extensive charitable activities that included cash donations to old people's homes, the sick and the poor and generally anyone in need. He seemed to get more pleasure in giving than making money. His charitable work extends to donating land for schools, two of which bear his name, and churches one of which was his own parish and was named in his honor of St. Peter and Paul (Petrou kai Pavlou).
Up to date he is the person who has baptized more children in Cyprus that anyone else, about 700 in all, mostly from poor families, as he could not deny anyone when asked. As a good Christian when those parents could not cope with the upbringing of his god children he was always there for them. His present for the poorest of his female godchildren when they grew up and were ready for marriage was some land to build their home on. His poorest male godchildren usually received help for their studies. His permanent weekly aid lists were a) for the poor, b) medicine for the sick and c) for war veterans.
One of his more visual charities beside the ones mentioned above were the Tsirion Stadium, the largest and most modern stadium in Cyprus at the time and still the main stadium of the town of Limassol.
Some of his silent charitable acts were his financial contribution in the island’s fight for freedom from British rule 1955-1959 and to many families when their father and/or husbands were thrown in jail for fighting for their country’s freedom. Even though he was not a political person he personally knew Archbishop Makarios as well as General Georgios Grivas, the leader of EOKA (E.O.K.A).
For all his charitable work during his life he was declared a great benefactor in Education as well as for the advancement of Sport in his country. The Church of Cyprus in a separate act declared him to be a great benefactor to the church. He was honored countless times by various sports clubs, schools and charities and the town of Limassol that he so dearly loved.
A lot of people that knew Petros I. Tsiros personally said that once Petros I. Tsiros gave his word and you shook his hand, that was all one needed to happen to rely on the fact that whatever was promised will be honoured and delivered. No paperwork needed, no costly legal documents to prepare, no long-time overwhelming process to face. It was as good as done because Petros I. Tsiros was honest! To many people he was known as an honest and sincere man of good nature, and a person with empathy, integrity and principles of high moral values. He was so much trusted and well liked that he became one of the biggest, if not the biggest, land owners (real estate) of that time as people would prefer to do business with him and no one else. He was affectionately known as the gentle giant (also the fact that he was a very tall man probably helps for this affectionate name), the trusted and loved landowner with a heart of gold as he often made many charitable donations to many villages and other communities that needed help.
Petros I. Tsiros and his wife Katina Tsiros contributed a lot to the development of many institutions and organisations that helped and still help many people in Cyprus. Katina Tsiros came from Omodos village (maiden name Papidis) and was a remarkable woman who was devoted and dedicated to Petros I. Tsiros and his contributions to Cyprus, as well as a loving and affectionate mother to their only child, Nikos P. Tsiros.
Demosthenis Papidis, Katina’s father, was a rather important person at the time, as his job was a tax collector. He toured the villages of Limassol district with two armed policemen on horseback. While on a trip to Italy in his youth, he fell in love with a young Italian girl Lina (later Ourania). When he asked for her hand in marriage, he was refused flat by her parents, so he eloped with her and brought her to Cyprus, married her and they had two daughters, Katina and Artemis. Demosthenis Papidis is credited as one of the pioneers who started the famous Limassol Carnival that incidentally started shortly after he returned from Italy with Lina. Lina (Ourania as she was better known in Cyprus) had a very interesting family. She was a family member of Giuseppe Garibaldi, one of the great heroes of Italy.
In 1984 Petros I. Tsiros died after making the biggest ever donation to the Church of Cyprus, a property donation believed to be worth by today’s value, of well over one billion Euros (600 Million Cypriot Pounds), with the express written condition that the Church of Cyprus should use the proceeds from the sale and development of that land, for public charitable causes and every time such funds were used to announce that they originated from Petros I. Tsiros's donation fund.
Petros I. Tsiros is considered the largest ever donor of the Church of Cyprus and probably one of the biggest benefactors and benevolent generous contributors and humanitarians that Cyprus ever saw.