To some in south Etobicoke, he was known as the ‘Mayor of Mimico’.
To others, he was the ‘Little General’. To many more, he was simply called ‘friend’. No matter what title Kyriakos “Domenic” Platsis was known by, he will be remembered by all who knew him for his easy smile and his infectious generosity of spirit.
“I love to help people. If I can do something for somebody, why not?” Platsis told The Guardian back in 2006. “Everyone has an obligation not just to get, but to give back to the community. Everybody can do something.”
A Greek immigrant, Platsis came to Canada in 1960 and soon thereafter settled in Mimico, quickly adopting his new community as his home away from home.
It was in Mimico where he built his business at the Canadiana Dining Lounge, which has remained a local favourite on Lake Shore Boulevard since opening in 1969.
Mimico is also where he made a name for himself as unflagging community advocate – from co-founding the Mimico Business Improvement Area (BIA) and founding the Etobicoke-Lakeshore Santa Claus Parade, to working tirelessly on behalf of seniors at Storefront Humber Inc., to making his community safer through a dutiful commitment to 22 Division’s Community Police Liaison Committee (CPLC).
And it was in Mimico where Platsis raised his three boys – Nick, Soterios and George – with his wife Eleftheria. It was surrounded by those loved ones that Platsis passed away peacefully on Dec. 18 at age 81.
His passing, said longtime friend and colleague Mary Hansen, executive director of Storefront Humber, has left a hole in the Mimico community that will not easily be filled.
“We’re never going to be able to replace Domenic. I just can’t tell you how much he’s admired and how much he’ll be missed,” Hansen said, noting that Platsis spent 20 years on Storefront Humber’s board, many of those as chair. “He is the best advocate south Etobicoke has ever had for seniors. He supported this agency with advocacy, with donations, and even with cooking turkeys for us in the past. He is just a phenomenal man.”
Never one to miss a meeting, Platsis’ commitment to Storefront Humber was so complete that, despite the fact that he was ill at the time, he attended the volunteer Christmas party on Dec. 7, where he was presented with a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal by Etobicoke-Lakeshore MPP Laurel Broten.
Broten remembered Platsis this week for his unwavering commitment to their shared community: “It has been a pleasure to call him a friend and he will be sorely missed.”
David Pritchard, now vice-chair of the Mimico-by-the-Lake BIA Platsis helped found, credits Platsis with being the glue that bound the BIA together through the years.
“I don’t think the BIA would exist today if it were not for him,” he said. “He was always willing to do whatever had to be done. He was very generous with his time and was really one of the kindest, most generous people I’ve ever known.”
When 22 Division’s recently retired Crime Prevention Officer, Mitch LeBlanc transferred police divisions from the Beaches to south Etobicoke in 1996, it was Platsis – an avid and conscientious member of the local Community Police Liaison Committee – who would often alert him of any suspicious activity in the neighbourhood.
Once, LeBlanc recalled, Platsis called him on a hot summer day to let him know that families trying to enjoy the Amos Waites Park pool were being disturbed by a group of drunks who often frequented the park.
When LeBlanc went to the park to investigate, he soon found himself surrounded by six of the men, and called for back-up.
“Next thing you know, I turned around and all I see is this diminutive ‘Little General’ in the middle of Lake Shore with his white chef’s apron on and his hands on his hips making sure I was okay. It was an incredible sight. I mean, who’s looking after who here?” LeBlanc recalled laughing. “He was amazing. He was just an incredible guy.”
Through the years, LeBlanc said he – like many of Platsis’ customers – would often bring his young sons to the Canadiana once a month to visit with Platsis.
“He would grab their biceps to see how much they’d grown,” LeBlanc recalled through tears. “He was like a grandfather to them, but, you know, that’s how he made everybody feel – like they were part of his family. He genuinely cared for the community and everyone in the community.”
In addition to his legacy of generosity, Platsis also leaves behind a namesake grandson named Kyriakos, and the Platsis Parkette at the foot of Mimico Avenue, which was named after him in 2006.
Platsis’ friends will be received at the G.H. Hogle Funeral Home, 63 Mimico Ave., on Friday from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. His funeral service will be held on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Prophet Elias Greek Orthodox Church, 1785 Matheson Blvd. in Mississauga. Condolences may be left at www.hogle.ca
– with files from Joanna Lavoie