About Stephen L. Chaconas

     Stephen L. Chaconas was born in Washington, DC on December 21, 1915 to Greek immigrant parents.  The middle child between two sisters, he was quickly assimilated to the “American way of life.”  Steve was graduated from Washington's Central High School in 1935, where he also played football [see photo].  Steve received a degree in architecture from The Catholic University School of Architecture in 1939. 

Steve is in the second row 9th from the left.

A close up of Steve.

Wearing the #22 Steve is in the second row 2nd from the left.

A close up of Steve.

The year 1941 was memorable.  Ted Williams hit .406; Joe DiMaggio hit safely in 56 games, and Steve married Sophia Nichols [see photo] on December 6th (yes, the day before the attack on Pearl Harbor). 

Sophia Nichols

Mr. Chaconas served in the U.S. Army Air Force Engineers during World War II and was stationed in London, Belgium and Germany. After the war, he resumed his architectural career with Walton & Associates in Arlington, VA. He later joined the Navy Department where he was lead architect of Operation Deep Freeze, the development of the Antarctic and South Pole Stations. 

Receiving one of his many Awards for dedicated and quality service.

Promotion to Head of the Technical Development Office in January 1975.

Steve and Sophia moved into Georgetown in 1952.  In 1956 they were blessed by the birth of their son Christopher.  In one of many tragedies in Steve’s life, his wife Sophia succumbed to cancer in 1973.  Steve battled alcoholism for many years, accounting for the gap in his painting between 1941 and 1976.  Encouraged by his life-long friend, Louis Levathes, he picked up his brushes and returned to painting.  After retiring from the Navy Department in 1977, he began his productive painting career. In 1979 Steve entered alcohol rehabilitation and was sober thereafter. 

Steve after retiring from the Navy Department in 1977.

He lived 42 years in Georgetown, until an auto accident in 1994 left him paralyzed. Art became a source of therapy for him and contributed greatly to his regaining the use of his hands [see photo]. 

Later in life working from his wheelchair.

Steve came to live with his son Christopher and daughter-in-law Fada, in Arlington. From 1996, until his death, he was cared for by Nada Cumbridge (Fada’s twin sister).

Steve had many muses, but none more inspiring than Maria Callas.  He was deeply moved by her vocal and artistic expression.  A few of his favorite selections are featured on this site.  Steve was also influenced by the French Impressionists, especially Cézanne.  His life-long ambition was to visit Arles in the south of France where so many of the Impressionists came to paint because of the light and natural beauty of the countryside.  While he never made it to Arles, he did make a trip to Paris in 1986 to visit his son Christopher, then working there for his company.  Together they went to several museums, notably the Musée d’Orsay, which had just opened.

Maria Callas by Steve Chaconas

Steve also had a passion for the game of baseball and even grudgingly managed to adopt the Orioles as his home team.  He attended Washington Senators games at DC’s Griffith Stadium, including seeing DiMaggio in 1941 tie, then break, the league record for consecutive hits. 

He did many paintings in watercolor , charcoal , oil pastel , pen and ink , and acrylic .  His subjects were photographs from various sources: snapshots, books and calendars. His works have been exhibited at Catholic University’s School of Architecture and at the Arlington County Library.

Steve went to meet the angels November 25, 2000.



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