Constandinos “Gus” Lukis who was affectionately known as the “Mayor of 57th Street” passed away, on Wednesday evening, Jan. 24, after suffering a stroke. He was 89.
“My dad and my mom were some of the nicest people you ever met,” said his son Jim Lukis. He was a good kind, loving person. He always found a way to laugh at things. “
For over 50 years, Lukis owned the Hyde Park Shoe Rebuilder, 1451 E. 57th St.
The shop closed three years ago. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in mid-2014.
Lukis was born in Chicago in July 1929 to Demetrios and Matina Lukis. His family moved to Greece when he was an infant.
He returned to the U.S. when he was 18 after receiving a draft letter to serve in the U.S. Army.
Lukis arrived at Ellis Island in New York and was told that they didn’t need him to serve in the war. His son Jim believed that it was because he didn’t know English.
From York, he took a train to Los Angeles to visit his father, said his son Jim Lukis. He settled in Chicago around 1950.
He learned the craft of shoe repair from his great uncle, John Psihitsas, who went by the name John Reachas. His great-uncle once owned a store on 55th Street. He continued to work with his great uncle at his current shop until he passed away in 1969.
Lukis met his wife, Connie through his great-uncle, John. They met and married in 1950. The couple had two sons John, who preceded him in death, and Jim. Lukis’ sons were raised in Hyde Park and attended a Greek school in the area for elementary school and Kenwood Academy High School. The family lived on the 5400 block of South Dorchester Avenue and the 5300 block of Hyde Park Boulevard.
Lukis also passed down the craft to his sons. While growing up, they assisted customers in the store. Neither son worked in the business as adults.
Jim Lukis, who has had a career in film distribution and as an Emmy Award-winning segment producer for WLFD Fox 32, has written three scripts in his own time – including one about his father, titled “The Mayor of 57th Street.”
Mrs. Lukis was also involved in the family business. She worked as a cashier and stitched handbags and also made Greek pastries for customers.
While on 57th Street, Lukis also assisted in helping others start businesses. In his over 50-year tenure, Lukis served countless customers including former U.S. President Barack Obama.
The Lukis’ were married for over 50 years.
“I will miss his sense of humor [most],” said Jim Lukis.
Lukis leaves behind his remaining son, Jim, three grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.