By Bill Parry
A beloved leader of Astoria’s Greek community will be honored this fall when a segment of 30th Avenue from 30th Street to 29th Street will be co-named “Dennis Syntilas Way.” He died in January at the age of 85 following a long illness.
He was a civic leader and community organizer who founded the Greek-American Homeowners Association, an organization that connects Greek Americans with government resources and promotes civic engagement. The best-known examples of the organization’s charitable presence in the neighborhood are the free Thanksgiving Day dinner it coordinates and its meal delivery system for those in need.
Syntilas was also instrumental in creating Athens Square Park on 30th Avenue. His Athens Square Park Initiative was part of the effort to raise more than $360,000 for an amphitheater, Greek-style columns and bronze statues of the philosopher Socrates and the goddess Athena.
In April, shortly after Syntilas’ death, a 7-foot statue of the playwright Sophocles was unveiled as the final piece in the park.
“I am proud to honor Dennis Syntilas and his family with a street co-naming,” City Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria) said. “His contributions to his community have been long-standing, Syntilas worked to improve Astoria by promoting Hellenic and Democratic values through his founding of the Athens Square Park and the Greek-American Homeowners Association. He is a great example of civic engagement and responsibility throughout our community. This recognition will forever commemorate his tireless work and contributions to our city.”
Syntilas emigrated from Greece in 1956 and worked as an executive at Atlantic Bank. He spent decades integrating the new Greek immigrants who began flooding Astoria in the ‘70s into the community, according to state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria).
“If Dennis was with us today, he would be proud to see how well his dream has come to life,” Gianaris said. “It is an honor to continue his legacy through the addition of ‘Dennis Syntilas Way.’ He made so many sacrifices, not just for this park but for our entire community and all the immigrants who made their way here over the decades.”
Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria), who emigrated from Greece as a young child, said Syntilas had an indelible impact on the community.
“It is truly fitting that we honor Dennis Syntilas with a street in the heart of the neighborhood he loved,” she said. “For decades, Mr. Syntilas worked to make our community special. His commitment to Astoria and to Hellenic culture should serve as an example to all of us.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr