Wellsville, NY - Constantine James “Gus” Rigas, 87, passed away on May 19, 2017 surrounded by family at Jones Memorial Hospital, in Wellsville, NY. He was born in Wellsville on November 11, 1929, the son of James John and Helen (Brazas) Rigas.
On November 23, 1951, Gus married Rheba Lamar Vincent in Wellsville and together they raised five children. Gus attended Greek School in Wellsville with his siblings and the other Greek children from the community. He graduated from Wellsville High School in 1947, attended Alfred University, and graduated from the University of Buffalo in 1951 with a B.A. in Biology.
Gus ran the Texas Hot Restaurant in Wellsville with his partner James Raptis which they inherited from their fathers in 1951, until they transferred ownership to their sons. Gus, his brother John Rigas, and friend Dave Scoville, built housing complexes in Wellsville in the late 1960’s. Gus and John started the Wellsville T.V. Cable Company and built additional cable systems and franchises throughout New York and Pennsylvania. Together with his brother, Gus (Vice President), and John, (CEO), formed Adelphia Communications Corporation which grew to be one of the largest cable companies in the country.
In 1981 Gus left the cable business and moved to Bonita Beach, Florida where he opened the Green Onion Restaurant in Naples in 1983. While in Florida, Gus purchased real estate throughout the area and opened Tovar Farms with Eddie Hedlund and Chris Tovar. With the help of Steve Adams, Gus, Eddie, and Chris farmed strawberries, tomatoes, squash and peppers.
Gus was an avid golfer and belonged to the Wellsville, Imperial, Quail Creek, and Naples Country Clubs. He was also a member of the Naples Elks Club and Chairman of the Alleghany County Democratic Committee.
Gus loved music, movies, travel, and sports, especially attending St. Bonaventure University basketball and Alfred University football games with his many friends and family. Gus enjoyed the social aspects of hunting and fishing, and loved the outdoors, especially tending to the property at “The Farm” in Andover, NY. Gus spent countless hours feeding the fish in the ponds, and overseeing the mowing, planting and caring for the many acres surrounding the property. Gus and Rheba loved entertaining their countless family and friends, and their doors were always open.
Gus remembered everyone he met; his favorite pastime was reminiscing with old friends and getting to know new ones, and his smile would light up the room. Gus loved everyone; the entire Wellsville community, his friends and family, and the Texas Hot. He could be seen in his favorite booth every morning having breakfast and was quick to greet and entertain generations of families with his sharp wit and wonderful stories. Above all else, Gus loved people. His legacy will be preserved by the lives of so many that he touched.
Gus is pre-deceased by his parents, his sister, Mary Hastas, his brothers-in-law, James Hastas and Bill Pallas, and his sister-in-law Doris Rigas.
Gus is survived by his wife Rheba of 65 years, his brother John J. Rigas, sister Katherine R. Pallas, and children, son James R. (Aileen) Rigas, daughter Diana R. (Steven) Pease, son John C. (Cheryl) Rigas, daughter Katherine C. (Philip) Chin, and son Christopher C. (Elizabeth) Rigas, grandsons Andrew, James, Timothy, Alexander, William, Jamie, Paul, and Nial, granddaughters Jennifer, Liz, Kerry, Sara, Erica, Katie, Anne, Eleni, and Dina, and fourteen great-grandchildren Travis, Andrew, Kelsey, Mia, Shirlyn, Felicity, Lexi, Hendrick, Shiree, Natalie, Adam, Angela, Luke, and Ellington.
A funeral service will be held at 11:00 am on Tuesday (May 23, 2017) at the Immaculate Conception Church in Wellsville. There will be a private burial service at St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Scio. The family invites you to share stories and celebrate the life of Gus at a reception from 6:30 to 8:30pm on Tuesday (May 23, 2017) at L’Italia in Wellsville.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to a Wellsville Central School Scholarship Fund established in Gus’s memory to be presented each year to a Wellsville graduate by one of Gus’s grandchildren or great-grandchildren. Donations can be made out to: Wellsville Central School Scholarship Fund (in memory of Gus Rigas) and mailed to: 126 West State Street Wellsville, NY, 14895. To leave online condolences please visit www.embserfuneralhome.com.