The Cassimatises: ‘Builders and Heroes,’ Part I

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Mary and Andrew Cassimatis are the American founders of a Greek family in York County that has gained great success. The family is profiled in the book “Heroes and Builders.” Background posts on other achievers profiled: Wiest’s first store: ‘Segars’ 5 cents a grab and The Yeagleys: ‘Builders and Heroes,’ and The Grumbachers: York’s ‘Builders and Heroes,’ and The Orrs: ‘Builders and Heroes’.

The Greek Cassimatis family of York County has risen high in a short time in heavily Pennsylvania Dutch York County.
It’s a great American story that started with the arrival of a family to America in the early 1900s that produced one of York County’s most esteemed judges in the early 2000s… .


The story of the Cassimatis family is one of more than 150 found in “Builders and Heroes,” part of the three-volume “250th Chronicles.” “Builders” is a compilation of York Daily Record, York Sunday News and York Dispatch articles on families that had achieved in York County’s first 250 years.
A committee organizing the massive 250th celebration in 1999 had the difficult task of choosing the families and then bringing the newspaper articles together into a book. I was fortunate to serve as general editor of the project – the other two volumes include Paul Wolfgang’s “York County History in Print.”
Tom Schaefer’s “Patterns of Our Past” and my “Never to be Forgotten” and others.
The hard-to-get “250th Chronicles” is the only place to find the “Heroes and Builders” book. Fortunately, the set is available at libraries throughout York County.
For years, I’ve wanted to put the short biographies into wider circulation. We’ve just released four condensed bios – shortened from those appearing in the book – for use by teachers who are part of the York Daily Record/Sunday News NIE program.
I’ll put those profiles forth in a series of posts here, starting with the Cassimatises:
How it began: Ellis Island was big and crowded in 1910, especially to a 6-year-old girl from Greece. A tag went around Mary Calopedis’ neck, and she was handed a sack lunch, her first American food. Opportunity brought Mary, her mother and father to the United States during the heyday of immigration. Harry Calopedis wanted to bring his family to the small town where he had already started a stable, successful life: York, Pa. He had come to this country just after the turn of the century to join his brother, Daniel, and when the time was right, he returned to Greece to accompany his wife and child back here. Little Mary grew up to marry Andrew Cassimatis, another Greek immigrant. After Andrew and his brother lost their Pottsville restaurant and hotel during the Great Depression, Andrew returned to York. Here, Andrew along with Mary’s brothers, Theodore and Pete, opened the first Ramona restaurant.
Son, daughter achieve: Mary and Andrew’s son, Emmanuel (Mike), became a lawyer, and later, as a judge, he devoted himself to helping juvenile offenders and young victims. He started Pennsylvania’s first Court Appointed Special Advocate program in York County, which provides volunteers to act as agents of the court in child neglect or abuse cases. And he was named National CASA Association Judge of the Year in 1995. Anita, Mike’s sister, went to college, became a teacher, and later helped set up the Headstart program in York County. In 1956, she had married another Greek immigrant, Bill Asimos, who arrived with a flood of refugees after World War II.
Family memories: Anita and Mike agree that their parents’ efforts gave them the best opportunities. Mike said their contribution was: “Family, itself. Love of family, education, hard work and faith in God.”

About Jim McClure

Editor of the York Daily Record/Sunday News, ydr.com and its many digital products. East Region Editor, Digital First Media. Journalism/history blogger: yorktownsquare.com. Author or co-author of seven York County, Pa., history books.
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7 Responses to The Cassimatises: ‘Builders and Heroes,’ Part I

  1. Robert Jerry Akin says:

    My name is Robert Jerry Akin and Anita Cassimatis was my first grade teacher back in 1956. Ironically when I was about 13 or 14 my mother Margie Akin went to work at the Ramona restaurant and at that time Bill (Anitas husband) and Arthur Asimos owned it. When I turned 16 I got a job as a busboy at the restaurant. While I worked there I had hoped I might see Miss Cassimatis (Asimos) but to no avail.
    I hope to one day see her again. She was one of the nicest people I have ever met.
    Thank you very much!
    Robert Jerry Akin

  2. Jim Walsh says:

    I worked at the courthouse between 1977-1982 and had lunch at the Romona many times. They had good food and the best price of any of the many (at the time) downtown restaurants. I also had the pleasure of having professional dealings with Judge Cassimatis a real gentleman and very learned jurist. I had never made the connection before. The world is a poorer place for having neither around anymore.

    Jim Walsh

  3. Cindy Lammens Calopedis says:

    Yes I remember the Ramona. My father was Pete Calopedis who ran the restaurant with my Uncle Andrew. I remember the great peanut butter sundaes and the great hamburgers and french fries. All the kids from William Penn High School would go down for lunch. It was not unusual to see 8 kids stuffed in one of the booths. I remember my father shaking his head one time when one of the kids ordered a banana split without the bananas.

    Lots of fond memories.

  4. Terry Calopedis Leonard says:

    My father was Pete Calopedis, one of the owners of the Ramona – I also have great memories growing up with cousins Mike Cassimatis and Anita (Asimos) and their kids.

  5. Barbara J. Brown says:

    The Calopedis and Cassimatis families have been lifelong family friends. I am still very close to Cindy and Terry Calopedis. The Ramona was “the place to be” when I was at William Penn Sr. High School in the late 50’s. Loved the food, especially the egg and olive sandwiches and chocolate cokes! Wonderful memories!!

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