John Demakis was a proud Greek immigrant who left behind an inspiring legacy of service to both his community and Orthodox church. He volunteered for numerous local and international mission agencies, directed the choir at his Greek Orthodox parish, and motivated many others to serve.
From 1998 to 2004, he directed the VA’s Health Services Research & Development (HSR&D) service. As part of his leadership, he helped launch QUERI, a partnership between research and practice that has been instrumental in improving Veterans’ access to quality healthcare.
Early Life and Education
John was born in Chicago, Illinois to George and Marina Demakis – proud immigrants from Sellasia near Sparta Greece. As a boy he developed an affection for the Chicago Cubs and an appetite for sweet treats acquired at their candy store. A passionate Orthodox Christian servant throughout life, John served on parish councils, taught Sunday school and adult catechism, and championed Orthodox Christian Missions. As a young man he led altar boys and youth groups at his church while singing in the choir.
In his free time, he enjoyed traveling the world and sharing those experiences with family and friends. Additionally, he wrote a guide for pilgrims visiting Mount Athos’ monasteries. Professionally speaking, he was an acclaimed cardiologist and long-standing professor of medicine.
John Demakis spent most of his professional career at Edward Hines VA Hospital in Chicago, IL as a cardiologist and then as the National Director of Health Services Research & Development for Veterans Affairs (VA). As head of QUERI (the Quality Enhancement Research Initiative), he played an influential role in changing how healthcare providers think and use evidence-based practices to enhance care delivery. He authored one of the most significant medical texts ever written and spearheaded efforts to establish a national influenza vaccination program for SCI Veterans as well.
John was an expert in his field who always shared his knowledge through teaching and counseling others. As an advocate for Orthodox Christian Missions, member of the Hellenic Medical Society of Illinois, and family man, John will be deeply missed by all who had the chance to know him.
Achievements and Honors
John Demakis was a physician employed at the Edward Hines VA Hospital in Chicago, Illinois. As Director of their Health Services Research & Development (HSR&D) service, he helped VA hospitals improve their quality of care and operate more efficiently. During this time, John received the prestigious VA Exemplary Service Award.
John Demakis was an accomplished scholar with a zest for learning. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in History from Gettysburg College and started his career as an educator the following year (2014). At Park View High School, John taught history while coaching track and field. A member of the National Honor Society, he read voraciously while traveling around the world for pleasure.
John Demakis was a dedicated husband and father who lived by the golden rule. He worked hard not only to support his family, but also made an impact in the world around him. As an active member of the Greek Orthodox church, he led altar boys and youth groups, sang in the choir, taught Sunday school classes as well as adult catechism. Additionally, John served on the founding committee for Orthodox Christian Association of Medicine Psychology and Religion (OCAMPR) to champion Orthodox Christian missions.
He dedicated his career to serving veterans, particularly at Hines VA Hospital in Chicago. Subsequently, he led the United States Department of Veterans Affairs’ Health Services Research & Development service, helping improve patient care and manage the healthcare system more efficiently.
John Demakis was a beloved family man whose legacy touched many lives. He was an adoring husband, father and grandfather as well as an active philanthropist. A devout Greek Orthodox Church member, John led youth groups and choirs at church while serving as President of Cape Cod AHEPA chapter where he raised scholarship funds and increased membership numbers. When not traveling or reading novels with his wife, John enjoyed spending quality time with friends and family; eventually their brood of three children and six grandchildren joined him.