Sunday, 14 February 2016 20:28

Turning 80 and still ahead

Lolis Katsounotos, 80 Lolis Katsounotos, 80

Limassolian Christoforous Katsounotos – locally known as ‘Loulis’ – turned 80 last week and was honoured during a celebration at Limassol’s Municipality on February 1. In an interview with the Cyprus Weekly, the much-loved citizen shared his life story.

Born in 1936 in Limassol, Loulis says he had a happy childhood, but it was difficult that his parents were older than the norm: his father was 50, his mother 40 when he was born.

Loulis describes himself as a ‘different’ child, modern and always wanting to swim or bike – activities not very common back then. Even today, he says he still likes modern things, because “life is about moving forward”.

His father owned a brick and tile factory and it was assumed the son would take over. But Loulis’ true passion had always been cars.

He left Cyprus in 1953 and was taken by his mentor, a German factory owner, to a brick and tile factory in a northern Germany small village, where Katsounotos says he worked very hard.

He found time to teach himself German with a self-study book and later went on to follow his father’s wish to study general mechanical engineering rather than car engineering in Munich.

Three years into his studies, with the help of his older sister who was visiting him in Germany, the siblings managed to convince their father to send Loulis to study car engineering in England.

He returned to Cyprus in the late ’50s —but his father insisted on him taking over the factory.

Going solo

When Loulis was 25, he left his father’s factory and opened a garage. He only took clients by appointment, making sure his value and knowledge would be appreciated.

“During the first three months nobody came,” laughs Loulis. “They thought I was crazy.” But the garage, located on Limassol’s Gladstonos street, later became very successful.

In the mid-70s, Loulis moved on once again to become a consultant for other garages. He also founded a company to bring machinery to Cyprus to operate Limassol’s burgeoning port.

It was during this period that Katsounotos began taking an increased interest in Limassol. “I always had a big pair of gardening sheers and tools in my car to trim trees in parks and along roadsides and fix lights,” he says.

His passion for his town has been immortalised in a statue called ‘Limassol my Love: Loulis’ by sculptor Philippos Yiapanis, which sits at the entrance of Limassol at the seafront.

Loulis attributes his popularity to his positive and cheerful character and the fact that he treats everyone with equal respect – no matter what their social standing.

He also happens to be the one who suggested the idea of having a ‘real life’ Carnival King to the municipality – something he had enjoyed seeing during his time in Germany. He was honoured with the title in 2008.

Loulis is looking forward to this year’s carnival, but deplores how big it has become. “All things in life have to be within measure,” he says. “There is a scale for everything.”

Katsounotos had at one point considered running for the office of Mayor of Limassol, but then heeded friends’ advice who assured him he’d find it more gratifying to continue improving small things for the simple pleasure of getting to enjoy them.

And this is what he does – even today Loulis maintains the lights in Dassoudi park.

“It makes me happy to do it,” he says, “But still, it is not the way things should work in a community.”

Loulis’ opinion is much respected to this day, as he is known for bringing up a problem along with a solution. “Just complaining is too easy and much too common nowadays – you just let others do the work,” says the still-youthful octogenarian who has no plans to ‘retire’.

His latest mission is to encourage people to vote.

“By not voting, people allow those they are complaining about to stay in power. To have the ability to vote is a great thing!” he says, thus planning to continue to live by his motto: ‘We need to do things in our lifetime’.

Article as published in The Cyprus Weekly of February 12, 2016 

Mary Anglberger

I’ve been travelling the world for over 20 years teaching English and am now taking time to follow my passion for photography and writing. I want to share all the things, events and people that have inspired and inspire me and spread those positive vibes all around.

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