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John George Gatgounis Ph.D., M.D.
  • December 4, 1930 - September 22, 2019
  • Charleston, South Carolina
  • Memorials and donations may be made in his honor to the building fund of the
  • Greek Orthodox Church of the Holy Trinity
    30 Race St
    Charleston, SC 29403

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“My prayers will be with you. I met your father at Roper Hospital 38 years ago. I always knew his patients would do well after surgery! He was a...Read More »
1 of 3 | Posted by: Pam Singletary - Charleston, SC

“John, I have fond memories of your father from my Roper Hospital days. He was always gentle and kind and had a welcoming smile. I know losing both...Read More »
2 of 3 | Posted by: Bobby Maguire Maguire

“Sincere condolences to you, George, and to your family. ”
3 of 3 | Posted by: Bob Williams - Lexington, VA


Dr. John George Gatgounis, Ph.D., M.D., 88, of Charleston, South Carolina, entered into eternal rest Sunday, September 22, 2019. His funeral service will be held Wednesday, September 25, 2019 at 2:00 p.m. EST in the Greek Orthodox Church of the Holy Trinity, at 30 Race Street. The funeral service at the Greek Orthodox Church, to celebrate his life, is open to all, and all are welcomed.A private interment, however, for immediate family only, shall follow at the burial site. The family will receive friends one hour prior to the service at 1:00 p.m. EST in the Greek Orthodox Church of the Holy Trinity, at 30 Race Street.

Dr. Gatgounis was born December 4, 1930 in Monessen, Pennsylvania, the first of three children born to the late George John Gatgounis and Helen Patrona Gatgounis, both Greek immigrants from the Greek city of Vrontados, the home village of the Greek Classic poet Homer, on the Greek island of Chios. There was never a man like him. And neither will there ever be another like him.All ships rise with the tide - and wherever Dr. John Gatgounis, Ph.D., M.D., was, the tide of hope, cheer, love, faith, and good-will would rise. Only the Lord knows how many people he encouraged with his uplifting smile and projecting warmth, gently and tenderly telling them, in his physician's manner, don't give up! His brilliant, versatile humor would engage soul after soul, giving them a good laugh, ever so needed, via a joke, apropos for the conversation and scenario. He knew, as a physician, a merry heart doeth good like a medicine. He had a joke for every occasion. He commerced in cheer, trafficked in hope, and spread the contagion of encouragement wherever he went. Wherever he went, good faith spread. His joyful spirit was highly contagious. Not only a man of faith, he was also a professional of pioneering breakthroughs. He was the first anesthesiologist to perform open-heart surgeries in Charleston. Known as the singing doctor, he would tell patients before the stress and strain of surgery, ever so tenderly, OK I'm going sing you to sleep now. What would you like to hear? Many patients would sing with him Amazing Grace and pass gently to peaceful sleep before surgery. Holding an M.D., and Ph.D., and an Ivy Leaguer, everyone thought he was the one of the most unassuming, humble, and nice persons they would ever meet. Everyone felt comfortable with him, his gargantuan academic intellect notwithstanding. His Greek peers elected him President of the Greek community.The oft-heard name Dr. Gatgounis was a synonym at both Roper and St. Francis hospitals for competence, professionalism, compassion, humor, likability, empathy, and love. Sought after by other doctors and patients alike, everyone loved to be around him, as he projected a magnetic likability that can only be experienced to be understood. His name was another name for love. People loved him for good reason. He loved them.A Renaissance man of many talents, he excelled in his God-given callings. He excelled in pioneering a quantum leap forward in surgery, allowing patients with advanced heart disease a new lease on life via open-heart surgery. He and his future wife Lythea excelled as a team to win a ballroom dance award at the Medical University. Before medical school, he excelled as a medical technologist (med tech) in the U.S. Army. Later in life, he excelled in teaching Sunday School at East Cooper Baptist Church to the Seniors. He excelled in real estate. He excelled in the stock market. He excelled at the gym, where he would work out at the MUSC Wellness Center religiously. He excelled as a family man. Excellence was his DNA.Married to his medical school sweetheart, Lythea Chakeris Gatgounis, Dr. Gatgounis and his wife Lythea enjoyed (60) years of marriage. He survived his beloved life-companion and partner by 127 days, his wife Lythea having preceded him to glory on May 18, 2019. Part of the greatest generation, John and Lythea demonstrated the power of the bond of matrimony, and raised their four children in the unity of love and service.Both Lythea and John were brilliant, excelling intellectually, his wife being one of two of the first women to become pharmacists at MUSC, where she graduated as second Honor Graduate. Both John and Lythea loved pharmacology. Both Lythea and John were spiritual together, expressing vibrantly their belief in their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The love between them is eternal, as is their love for their four children, fruits of their love. He artificed the magic, mystery, and magnificence of Fatherhood. His love goes on. The grave can not stop his love.

He is survived by his grateful four children, Rev. Dr. George John Gatgounis, Ph.D., Esq., Helen Gatgounis Ulmer (Gerald R. Ulmer), John John Gatgounis (Kristen Buongiovani Gatgounis), and Anastasia Gatgounis Churdar.

He has left us an impeccable, eternal legacy. Even death can not stop his love. May his memory be eternal.

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Greek Orthodox Church of the Holy Trinity

30 Race Street Charleston, SC 29403