Patio Theatre in 2005 / photo by Paul Moore

Owner of Patio Theatre dies following North Side crash [Chicago, IL]

Patio Theatre in 2005 / photo by Paul Moore

Alexander Kouvalis died Sunday, days after he was involved in a crash at [a] Northwest Side intersection … Alexander Kouvalis, 77, of the 1200 block of East Devon Avenue in Park Ridge, was injured in the Friday traffic crash near the intersection of Sunnyside and Austin avenues, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office. 

Kouvalis was pronounced dead Sunday at noon at Advocate Lutheran General in Park Ridge, according to the medical examiner’s office… A Jefferson Park District lieutenant said he may have been suffering from a medical emergency when the crash happened but had no further details….An autopsy to determine the cause and manner of his death is scheduled for later Monday.


—— excerpts of his obituary are below —–

Alexander Kouvalis remembered as savior of Patio Theater

BY MAUREEN O’DONNELL Staff Reporter October 4, 2011 1:32AM

Alexander Kouvalis, who cared for the Patio Theater as tenderly as a lover and guarded it as fiercely as Cerberus, was a hero to film buffs for not only keeping the jewelbox of a moviehouse running — but also for refusing to slice up its big screen for a multiplex.

Mr. Kouvalis and his family burnished the Patio, which has been operating at Irving and Austin since 1927, and they re-opened it in June with a $5 admission. 

It was unusual work for a man who immigrated to the U.S. from Greece at age 18 in short pants in the middle of December — with no English — and went on to become a physicist with four college degrees. 

Mr. Kouvalis, 77, died Sunday at Lutheran General Hospital after suffering a heart attack while driving…

In 1987 Mr. Kouvalis, with some partners, bought the block-long building that houses the neo-Pompeian Patio as well as apartments and commercial tenants. “It was a mess, but I could see a thing of beauty underneath the dirt,” he said before the June re-opening. “Like ‘My Fair Lady,’ the beauty was there, you just had to bring it out.” 

He did it all, from booking second-run films to selling popcorn. He rousted teenage vandals and he was not above patting someone’s pocket if he thought they were sneaking in candy.But he faced hard times in the late ’90s when the city tried to impose additional fees and the air-conditioning system broke down. He shut it in 2001. For years, the Patio marquee said “UNDER RENOVATION.”

 But Mr. Kouvalis, his daughter Amalia and his son repainted, reupholstered and found a company to fix the air conditioning. Mr. Kouvalis bought out all but one partner. Today, the Patio still has its trademark twinkling ceiling lights and a projector that makes the ceiling look like moving clouds. Currently, it is showing “The Help.” …

“The fact that it’s still there, doing what it started out as in 1927, that’s a pretty amazing thing,” said Richard Sklenar, executive director of the Elmhurst-based Theatre Historical Society of America. “It’s been on that corner for three generations. . . . We give him credit for hanging on to it.” 

His wake is scheduled 4 to 9 p.m. Thursday at Smith-Corcoran Funeral Home, 6150 N. Cicero. A funeral service is planned at 10:30 a.m. Friday at Smith-Corcoran. Interment is to follow at Maryhill Cemetery, Niles. He will be buried with a handmade blanket his mother, Vasiliki, sent him when he first arrived in America. 

For the full story, go to the obituary at  

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