From the Alfred Sun, May 25, 2017.

Transcribed by Crist Middaugh.

Constantin James “Gus” Rigas
Wellsville entrepreneur


gus rigas2

WELLSVILLE - Constantine James "Gus" Rigas, 87, passed away on Friday, May 19, 2017, surrounded by family at Jones Memorial Hospital, in Wellsville. He was born in Wellsville on Nov. 11, 1929, the son of James John and Helen (Brazas) Rigas.

On Nov. 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 1960s. 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, Fla., 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, they 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 Allegany 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. 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 predeceased 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 was held at 11 a.m. Tuesday, May 23, at the Immaculate Conception Church in Wellsville. A private burial service was held at St. Joseph's Cemetery in Scio. The family invites friends to share stories and celebrate the life of Gus at a reception from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. 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.