NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas — New Braunfels is rallying around a family grieving the loss of their leader; Yanni Ousaklidis died in a motorcycle crash Saturday.
Known for his air conditioning business, Yanni was loved for his secret acts of kindness.
His widow and four children say Yanni’s legacy of giving will live on.
Thursday, the cloudy skies painted a picture of the grey week the Ousaklidis family has endured. Each day, the pain of losing a loved one has settled in a little deeper.
“His family was his whole life and he was ours,” said his widow, Wanda Ousaklidis. “We'll never quite be the same.”
Pictures of Yanni show a glimpse of his personality. “When he smiled, it came out of his eyes,” said Wanda.
What you can’t see in the pictures is his heart.
“If there was a single mom that needed help with their rent, he was about it,” said Wanda.
When David Mekonen was in high school, he was the recipient of this kindness. Yanni gave him a place to stay, food, clothing and trade skills that David uses in his career today.
“He came storming out this door right here. He was like, 'You got people who care about you. I am responsible from you for this day on.' It almost made me cry,” said Mekonen. “I was like, wow, because no one cared that much.”
Saturday, Yanni was driving his motorcycle to a pig roast in Blanco County. Proceeds from the meal were benefiting a children’s charity. During the trip, Yanni died in a crash.
“He met his maker doing what he loved; sun on his face, wind in his hair,” said Wanda.
Yanni’s service manager, Roger Smith McCain, credits his boss for dramatically increasing his quality of life. To lose a mentor and friend is tough on the rest of the employees, which includes one of Yanni’s own sons.
“The world lost a pillar that held up a bridge,” said Smith McCain.
Since the tragedy, New Braunfels is showing the Ousaklidis family an outpouring of love with meal deliveries, a GoFundMe page and funeral preparations.
“I would want everyone who's ever lost a loved one to feel as supportive as I've been,” said Wanda, who made a special thanks to the ladies in the Moms of New Braunfels Uncensored group on Facebook.
Yanni’s dedication to giving back will live on. The family plans to set up a scholarship for youth to attend trade school.
“I know where he is now, and he is too big a presence to have completely exited,” said Wanda. “His legacy is going to live on for a very long time.”
The next generation will keep the A/C business going.
The family is grateful that not long before his passing, Yanni got to feel the heartbeat of his first grandchild on the way.
Yanni was also an Air Force and Air National Guard veteran. He leaves behind his wife, Wanda and their four children.
A celebration of life is taking place Friday, October 16th. A service will be held at Holy Archangels Greek Orthodox Monastery in Spring Branch at 11 a.m.
Men attending must wear suits or long selves. Women should wear long skirts or dresses with long sleeves, closed toed shoes, a scarf head-covering and socks or tights.
A reception will be held at 4 p.m. at the Palms Lounge on FM 725 in New Braunfels. Attire for the reception is casual.
Both locations are open to anyone in the public wishing to attend.