Costa N. Calliagas, 77, bridge painter

Costa N. Calliagas
Costa N. Calliagas
Posted: August 13, 2014

Costa N. Calliagas, 77, of Philadelphia, a bridge painter and sandwich shop owner, died Saturday, Aug. 9, of complications from a kidney disease in Vitas Hospice at Nazareth Hospital.

A native of Greece, Mr. Calliagas arrived in Philadelphia in 1964. He moved to Wilmington, where he worked as a dishwasher and then a bridge painter on the Delaware Memorial Bridge.

"On the new portion of the Delaware Memorial Bridge, he was the first one to reach the top," said his son, Nicholas.

Mr. Calliagas opened a produce business, followed by a series of submarine sandwich shops in Wilmington. He moved to New Castle, Del., and opened Jean Subs and Steaks, which later became Apollo Pizza.

Mr. Calliagas was married in 1964 to Jeanie Klezaras. They divorced; she survives. He married Amalia Kalamara in 1984, the year he moved back to Philadelphia. She died in 2012.

Mr. Calliagas was part of the team that painted and rehabilitated the George C. Platt Memorial and Ben Franklin Bridges, both in the 1980s.

"He was a hard worker and always wanted to provide for his family, wanting them to have a better life," his relatives said in a tribute.

A member of the Evangelismos of Theotokos Greek Orthodox Church in Northeast Philadelphia, he served on the parish counsel, helped out with church festivals, and made candles for religious services.

Mr. Calliagas also was civic-minded: He once donated a 200-foot submarine sandwich to the March of Dimes and a 150-foot sub to a multiple sclerosis group in Wilmington.

His passions were tending his vegetable garden and fruit trees, and enjoying the company of his grandchildren. Mr. Calliagas was able to go back to Greece last October, to see his relatives and old stomping grounds one last time. "It was a thrill," his family said.

In 1992, he was diagnosed with IgA nephropathy, which evolved into end-stage renal disease. He underwent three kidney transplants.

"He never lost the will to live or his faith in God," his family said. "He had no regrets in life. He lived his life to the fullest."

In addition to his son Nicholas, Mr. Calliagas is survived by his daughter, Dianna Jenkins; five grandchildren; a sister; a brother; and nieces and nephews.

A viewing at 10 a.m. Tuesday, at Evangelismos of Theotokos Greek Orthodox Church, will be followed by funeral services at 11 a.m. Burial is in Lawnview Cemetery in Rockledge.

Donations may be made to the church, at 6501 Bustleton Ave., Philadelphia 19149, or the National Kidney Foundation through


comments powered by Disqus