OBITUARY

Bill "God Bless America" Vasilios Konstantinos Matheos

July 15, 1935October 11, 2020

Vasilios “Bill” Konstantinos Matheos better known as “God Bless America” or “Bobby" of Jackson, Mississippi passed away at his home on October 11, 2020. He was 85 years old.

Bill’s life story reads like an adventure novel, recounting tales that transformed a young European villager into a larger-than-life American patriot, business-owner, husband, father, grandfather and friend. Bill was born on July 15, 1935 on the small island of Thassos, Greece in the North Aegean Sea. The son of a fisherman father and a mother renowned for her cooking throughout the Greek village, young Bill quickly learned the values of family and hard work, and the joy that cooking brings to people – all of which shaped Bill’s long and colorful life.

As a young man, Bill joined the Greek Navy and served for three years. During his naval service, Bill honed his cooking skills as a chef, and began plotting his next big adventure – immigrating to America. From 1963-1968, Bill unsuccessfully attempted to immigrate by “jumping ship” to America on three separate occasions in New York, Baton Rouge, and Galveston. Though he was deported to Greece after each attempt, he ultimately found immigration success and a path to American citizenship in Houston, Texas in 1968. It was then that he “won the lottery” as he said when he met and married young Judy Harrison, who became his wife of 52 years and the love of his life until the time of his passing.

In 1972, Bill and Judy had moved to Mississippi, and in that year, they opened a restaurant that became a Jackson landmark in family, social, and political circles for 46 years. He owned, managed, and held court at the restaurant under the name “Bill’s Burger House” until he decided to return to his young Thassos cooking roots, and he converted the burger house to a Greek seafood restaurant known as “Bill’s Greek Tavern.” Bill’s two daughters Eleni, “The Trustmark Bank Lady”, (1972) and Kostas, “The Doctor”, (1977) grew up working alongside Bobby and Juju at “The Hut”. He frequently said, “a little hard work never hurt anyone”.

As the owner and cook, Bill spent days and nights in his restaurant with his loyal customers, many of whom he considered dear friends and extended family members. Bill had a heart of gold and never met a stranger. With his Mediterranean menu offerings, and his loud and constant bellows of “God Bless America” throughout the restaurant, customers flocked to enjoy Bill’s great food, patriotism, and fun demeanor. He often shared his mother’s advice that there are three things you need to be concerned about: women, fire and water. Two of Bill’s most loyal customers were Mississippi literary giants Willie Morris and Eudora Welty, the latter of which considered Bill’s Greek Tavern to be her favorite restaurant. The restaurant was successfully open for 47 years until he and Judy got sick in 2017 and had to close it.

In his later years, Bobby enjoyed spending time with his family and friends, watching football games, and playing cards. His favorite activity was spending time with his only grandchild, Nicholas, and his troops. Bobby constantly referred to Nicholas as “my best friend in the world.” Bobby also had a four-legged friend- a yellow lab named Ally which he referred to as his “granddaughter.”

Bill is lovingly remembered and survived by his wife of 52 years, Judy; daughters, Eleni Matheos Sanford and Kostas Matheos; grandson, Nicholas Matheos Sanford; granddaughter, Ally Matheos; sister, Tasoula Boras; niece, Eleni Matheos Tsompanoglou and her husband Fotis; brother-in-law, Neil Harrison; sister-in-law, Julie Harrison.

Special thanks to William Castle, MD, Lee Ferguson, MD, Patrick Daily, MD, and the staff at Fresenius Kidney Care, (Lakeland Drive) and their staff.

Pallbearers: Elias Dabit “The Boss”, Theo Gouras “Malak”, Justin Harrison “Justi”, Neil Harrison “My Brother-in-law” Raymond Harrison “Ray Ray”, Nicholas Sanford “My Best Friend”, Nabil Shayeb “My Brother”, Brandon White “The Lawyer”

Honorary Pallbearers: Sims Abney, Tripp Cory, Thad Crawford, Ross Hopkins, Emory Maxwell, Charlie Ott, Carter Stockett, Thomas Thornton, Jay Waits, Will Waits

Friends that made the voyage to Bill’s home Thassos, Greece: These special friends went to Bill’s home in Greece. They were able to see the olive trees on the island of Thassos, Greece: Dr. Kay Kay Brantley Rosamond, The late Greg Clifton, Bill Cossar, Blair Ainsworth Criminger, Loris Nejam Davis, the late Glen Dewease, Theo Gouras, Neil Harrison, Ellen Hontzas, Tommy Hontzas, Sandy Sanford, Anastasia Hontzas Seavers, Laura Luckett Spencer, Katherine Sykes, and Leigh Singletary Tucker.

Visitation will be held on Thursday, October 15, 2020 at 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., at Parkway Funeral Home, 1161 Highland Colony Parkway, Ridgeland, Mississippi 39157. A graveside ceremony will be held at Hollywood Cemetery, 900 Pennsylvania Avenue, McComb, Mississippi 39648 at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, October 16, 2020. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Mississippi Diabetes Foundation https:\\msdiabetes.org.

  • PALLBEARERS

  • Elias Dabit "The Boss", Pallbearer
  • Theo Gouras "Malak", Pallbearer
  • Justin Harrison "Justi", Pallbearer
  • Neil Harrison "My Brother-in-law", Pallbearer
  • Raymond Harrison "Ray Ray", Pallbearer
  • Nicholas Sanford "My Best Friend", Pallbearer
  • Nabil Shayeb "My Brother", Pallbearer
  • Brandon White "The Lawyer", Pallbearer
  • Sims Abney, Honorary Pallbearer
  • Tripp Cory, Honorary Pallbearer
  • Thad Crawford, Honorary Pallbearer
  • Ross Hopkins, Honorary Pallbearer
  • Emory Maxwell, Honorary Pallbearer
  • Charlie Ott, Honorary Pallbearer
  • Carter Stockett, Honorary Pallbearer
  • Thomas Thornton, Honorary Pallbearer
  • Jay Waits, Honorary Pallbearer
  • Will Waits, Honorary Pallbearer

Services

  • Visitation

    Thursday, October 15, 2020

  • Graveside Service

    Friday, October 16, 2020

Memories

Bill "God Bless America" Vasilios Konstantinos Matheos

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Bobby Moak

October 18, 2020

I did not know this great guy personally, but when I was a young legislator every Friday it was straight to his restaurant after the session. The food was always great and the welcome the same. An institution that will be missed and an enjoyment that the newest group of young folks will never know. All my thoughts and prayers.

Draughon and Bill McPherson

October 16, 2020

Kostas and family, we share in your sadness in the loss of your father. We will always remember him and his iconic restaurants Bill’s Burger House and The Greek Tavern where we shared many wonderful meals and times . May your memories comfort and sustain you in the days ahead . God bless you and God bless America!

Jan Johnson

October 16, 2020

My first encounter going to Bill’s Burger House was in 1973...yes, that hamburger and onion rings were the Best. My roommate at the time was from McComb and knew Judy From then on, I was known as McComb.
Later in life, my parents and I went every Sunday night to enjoy the redfish. And every Sunday night the same group of people were there. We all loved seeing everyone and visiting with Bill and Judy.
Their girls grew up there and life went on.
With all that being said, A great man will be missed.
He loved his family and this Country.
My thoughts are with you all.

Elias and Beth Dabit

October 15, 2020

We have known Bill the Greek, Judy and family for many years. There are endless memories of great times at Bill’s Greek Tavern, visits at our homes, eating out!
Bill was larger than life, never met a stranger, say it like it is, heart of gold.
We will miss him dearly. God be with
Judy, Elani, Kostas, and Nicholas.

John Henry (Iani) Jackson

October 15, 2020

I sincerely regret not making it to the visitation today. I worked for Bill as a bus boy for a summer in high school, and my parents were regular customers. I have so many fond memories of this man, his loving family, his patient wait staff, and the warmth of his restaurant filled with diners who were enjoying themselves. It was a formative and bracing experience. I especially remember the beautiful wedding of his eldest daughter Eleni, and on the other end of the spectrum the night I cut my hand wide open working in the kitchen. I extend sincerest condolences to both his daughters and his widowed bride. There will never be anyone quite like Bill Matheos! May he Rest In Peace.

Ruth Summers

October 14, 2020

What a wonderful man and true patriot! He provided my daughter with one of her truest and best friends. This world is less colorful and happy without him in it. Carry on the legacy Eleni and Kostas!!

Fran Yarbrough Temple

October 14, 2020

My heart goes out to you Judy. Shortly after ya'll moved to Jackson I left and I lost touch with you. Will remember you in my prayers.

PK Walkace

October 14, 2020

I have great memories of Bill. My office was behind Bill’s Burger House back in the 70’s. We had a dirt path worn from our office to him. Ate lunch there several times a week for years. Always loved hearing him say, “God Bless America” as soon as we opened the door. And we knew he meant it. And the food was good, too. God Bless him and his family.

Mary Anne Aycock

October 14, 2020

Mr. Bill, as we called him, greeted everyone the same: like a friend that he hadn’t seen in a while. He made people feel as though they were his favorite customer. And I believe everyone was. What a jovial man he was! He loved everyone and everyone loved him.

DeSha White

October 14, 2020

Bill was a Jackson treasure.
My thoughts and prayers are with his family.
I have many memories going to his restaurant in NE Jackson.

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