Longtime Chargers owner Alex Spanos dies at age 95 - 100.7 KFM-BFM - San Diego Radio - kfmbfm.com

Longtime Chargers owner Alex Spanos dies at age 95

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Alex Spanos, owner of the San Diego Chargers, celebrates, Oct. 27, 1993, in Rosemont, Ill., after the NFL announced that San Diego secured the 1990 site of the Super Bowl. (AP Photo/Tim Boyle) Alex Spanos, owner of the San Diego Chargers, celebrates, Oct. 27, 1993, in Rosemont, Ill., after the NFL announced that San Diego secured the 1990 site of the Super Bowl. (AP Photo/Tim Boyle)

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Chargers owner Alex Spanos, the protagonist of a rags-to-riches story, died Tuesday morning, his family announced. He was 95.

"It is with heavy hearts that the Spanos family announces the death of Alexander Gus Spanos, founder of A.G. Spanos Companies and owner of the Chargers NFL Franchise," according to a family statement. "Alex passed away peacefully surrounded by his loved ones on Tuesday morning."

The statement said that Spanos, the son of Greek immigrants, rose from humble beginnings to become "the top apartment builder across the nation" and the owner of an NFL franchise.

In 1984, Spanos fulfilled one of his lifelong goals by purchasing the San Diego Chargers, and "one of his most memorable moments was watching the Chargers beat the Pittsburgh Steelers to play in Super Bowl XXIX," the family said. Spanos turned over the day-to-day operations of the Chargers to his oldest son, Dean, in 1994.

The family, headed by Dean and his three siblings, chose to move the football club to the Los Angeles area in January 2017 after NFL owners provided it the first option to join the Rams in a privately financed stadium in Inglewood, starting in 2021.

News 8's Kyle Kraska shares his thoughts on the passing of Alex Spanos.

Spanos was a dedicated family man. He was married to his wife Faye for around 70 years and had four children, 15 grandchildren and 12 great- grandchildren. Faye died in August at the age of 92, but his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren all survive him.

"In 1951 at the age of 27, Alex Spanos decided he could no longer support his growing family on $40 per week working in his father's bakery. So he borrowed $800, purchased a used catering truck and set out on his own by providing catering and support services for the migrant farm workers in California's Central Valley," according to a biographical sketch provided by the team.

In 2008, the President of the Republic of Greece, Mr Karolos Papoulias, awarded Spanos the Medal of the Commander of the Order of Honor in recognition of his many contributions to the birthplace of his parents

In the NFL, Spanos served on several committees, including the League's Expansion and Realignment Committee. He used his influence with other NFL owners to secure Super Bowl XXXII in 1998 and Super Bowl XXXVII in 2003, bringing estimated windfalls of close to $300 million per game to San Diego's economy, according to the team.

Spanos was born on Sept. 28, 1923, in Stockton, California, one of six children. He pursued an engineering degree at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, but following the attack on Pearl Harbor, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and was stationed at Tarpon Springs, Florida. It was there he met his future wife, Faye Papafaklis, who would be by his side for the next 77 years. Once his military service ended in 1946, he returned to Stockton and enrolled at the University of the Pacific where he earned varsity letters in swimming and diving.

Over the course of his life, Spanos contributed generously to charitable causes. One of his most generous contributions resulted in the opening of the Alex G. Spanos Heart & Vascular Center in Sacramento in 2014. He was often the first to offer aid in times of need, donating $1 million dollars to the American Red Cross to assist flood victims in Northern California in 1997 and in 2003 donating $1 million dollars to the San Diego Fire Relief Fund after devastating wildfires ravaged the county.

Funeral services will be private. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent in the name of Alex Spanos to the following charities: American Legion, Karl Ross Post #16, 2020 Plymouth Road, Stockton, CA 95204; The Stockton Scholars Endowment Fund at UOP, University of the Pacific, Attn: University Development/Stockton Scholars, Endowed Fund, 3601 Pacific Avenue, Stockton, CA 95211; The Discovery ChalleNGe Academy, 2922 Transworld Drive, Stockton, CA 95206; or YMCA of San Joaquin County, 2105 West March Lane, Suite 1, Stockton, CA 95207.

The football club released a statement that read, 

It is with heavy hearts that the Spanos family announces the death of Alexander Gus Spanos, founder of A.G. Spanos Companies and owner of the Chargers NFL Franchise. Alex passed away peacefully surrounded by his loved ones on Tuesday morning. He was 95.

From humble beginnings to becoming the top apartment builder across the nation and the owner of an NFL franchise, Alex proved that dreams do come true.

Alex was the embodiment of the American dream and leaves behind a legacy of passion and hard work. Born the son of Greek immigrants in 1923, Alex’s tireless work ethic and fearlessness was instilled in him when at only eight years old, he began working in his father’s bakery before and after school. A tough upbringing coupled with the unshakeable belief that he could accomplish anything he set his mind to drove him to succeed and overcome countless obstacles.

In 1984, Alex fulfilled one of his lifelong goals by purchasing the San Diego Chargers. His intensely competitive nature and passion for sport made him the perfect fit to be a part of the NFL family. One of his most memorable moments was watching the Chargers beat the Pittsburgh Steelers to play in Super Bowl XXIX. He was equally passionate about the franchise’s impact off the field, implementing many Chargers’ community outreach programs that exist to this day. The Chargers Community Foundation - which he created and funded – still supports numerous critical causes, individuals in need and organizations supporting the community.

Aside from being a celebrated businessman and generous philanthropist, Alex’s greatest joy and source of pride was his family.  His beloved wife Faye, his four children, his 15 grandchildren and his 12 great-grandchildren always came first. Throughout Alex’s life, Faye, his wife of nearly 70 years, was his rock and inspiration. It was Faye’s unconditional love and support that gave him the strength and peace of mind to take risks and pursue his goals unfettered. Together they contributed generously to worthy causes and charities. Hospitals, universities, scholarship funds, youth programs, sports programs, churches, schools – all were recipients of their incredible generosity.

Through it all, Alex never forgot his roots and took immense pride in both his Hellenic heritage and Greek Orthodox faith. It was through that faith he learned compassion and empathy. Whenever he was called upon to help, he always delivered. Passionate about education, helping the underprivileged and enabling those with a dream to better their lives, he took pride in setting an example for others to follow.

Fiercely loyal, competitive, passionate and loving – that was Alex Spanos.

We have no words that can adequately express our sadness with his passing. We will continue to honor his legacy by dedicating ourselves to making a difference in the community and throughout our country.

As Alex would say, “Believe in yourself. There is nothing you can’t do if you set your mind to it.”

Funeral arrangements will be announced in the next few days.

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