George Philactos, 87, engineer, radio expert, veteran


By Albert Amateau

George Philactos, a retired electrical engineer, ham radio operator and officer in the U.S. Naval Reserve who lived in the Village for more than 50 years, died Dec. 2 at St. Vincent’s Hospital at the age of 87.

He suffered from Parkinson’s disease for the past six years and was admitted to the hospital on Nov. 24 with pneumonia, according to his daughter, Angela.

An electrical engineer, he worked for Western Electric in Lower Manhattan until he retired in 1976 and served in the Naval Reserve until 1978 when he retired with the rank of lieutenant commander.

He was active in St. Joseph’s Church in the Village where he was one of the founders of the parish youth center and served as leader in the Boy Scout troop.

Born in Manhattan in 1918 to Spyros Gregory Philactos, a Greek immigrant, and Hilda Antony Philactos, an Austrian immigrant, he was fascinated as a boy by radio, then in its early stages. The family moved to the Bronx where George attended James Monroe High School and was president of the school radio club. He built radio sets and was licensed to operate on the amateur band — commonly known as ham radio frequencies — with the call letters W2IWH. It was an avocation he pursued until the advanced stages of Parkinson’s disease.

“When we lived on Bank St. we had an aerial on the roof and even here on LaGuardia Pl. he had an aerial hanging out of the window,” said his daughter, Angela, recalling her father’s abiding radio hobby.

He graduated from high school in 1937 and joined the Navy in 1938 as a radio technician. During World War II, he served aboard the U.S.S. Biscayne, a Navy communications ship that supported the invasions in North Africa, Sicily and Anzio in the Mediterranean and Iwo Jima and Okinawa in the Pacific.

After the war, Philactos joined the Naval Reserve and was called back to active duty in 1946 and again in 1950 during the Korean War.

In 1949, he married Genevieve Sapporatto, of Belleville, N.J., whom he met at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The couple moved to the Village where they raised two sons and two daughters.

In addition to his wife and their daughter, Angela, another daughter, Judy, and two sons, George E. and Gregory, also survive.

Perazzo Funeral Home, 199 Bleecker St., was in charge of arrangements. Burial will be in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Va.