James D. Fotos
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James D. Fotos
  • October 26, 1929 - April 2, 2017
  • Dunwoody, Georgia

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James D. Fotos was born in Politsani, Epirus, Greece. At age 13 he escaped from Politsani with his uncle, Basil J. Photos to Athens, where he did not see his parents or family for forty years. In 1955, at the age of 22 he came to the United States to live with relatives. He lived in Chicago, Illinois in the winter and in the summer he lived in Philadelphia and worked at the public pool that his uncles owned. His goal when he came to the United States was to work hard and have his own business. In 1960, after being here for only five years, he opened his first McDonald’s franchise in Yorkville, New York. A month after opening his store, he went back to Chicago and became a United States citizen. Both of his wishes came true. James always wanted to give back to the community for helping making him a success. On the tenth anniversary of being in McDonald’s, James brought the Great Wallendas to the back of the store and had them perform for three days. On the third day, he walked the wire with the Great Karl Wallenda. At McDonald’s conventions, Ray Kroc would say the Greek did it again always receiving many awards for his dedication to what he loved most. He always stated that it was not he, but the people that worked for him that made him a success as long as you treated them like family, not like employees. In 1965, he married Irene Manousos and they had three children. In 1979, they moved to Dunwoody, Georgia. Upon moving to Atlanta, he went into real estate developing. His real dream was to open a restaurant. He then opened Araxi and later Rainwater of Alpharetta. James’ dream was to be reunited with his parents and siblings. When the communists released Albania, he reunited with his family. He eventually helped all his family get settled in Greece and the United States so they could start lives in the free world. His wife stated that her husband would help anyone that needed it and never expected anything in return. They opened their home to everyone and had people staying with them all the time. He is survived by his wife Irene, son Andrew and wife Stacy, daughter Marina Papathanasiou, son Peter and wife Maura. His grandchildren who were his angels are: Aristomenis, Anastasia, Demetra, Gregory, Maia and Teddy. He is also survived by his sister Vergulla, Netta, sister-in-law Miranda Fotos, Alexandra Manos and Veronica Xenos. He is also leaving behind many nieces, nephews and godchildren. In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations be made to the Annunciation Day School, 2500 Clairmont Road, Atlanta, Georgia 30329, because he felt very strongly about education.