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05/16/09 07:24 AM

Teddy Filosofos, ex-deputy elections commissioner, leading local Democratic Party figure, Navy veteran

Dec. 15 1927—May 14, 2009

Teddy Filosofos, former deputy commissioner of the Erie County Board of Elections and a leading figure in the Democratic Party locally for many years, died Thursday at Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center after a long illness. He was 81.

Considered one of the area’s leading election law experts at the time of his retirement in 1989, he served for nearly 13 years as the second-ranking Democrat at the Board of Elections. The News noted then that his “name has been synonymous with Democratic politics in good times and bad.”

“An up-through-the-ranks politician with a reputation as a workaholic and a whirling dervish at the board,” News Political Reporter George Borrelli wrote, “he helped bring the agency into the computer age and sometimes ruffled feathers with his blunt talk.”

Mr. Filosofos started as a party committeeman, served 18 years as Grand Island Democratic leader and was treasurer of the Endorsed Democratic Candidates Committee for 13 years, playing a key role in many elections.

After working at General Motors in Tonawanda for many years, he was selected to serve as deputy commissioner of finance in the Erie County Clerk’s Office, a job he held until joining the Board of Elections in 1977.

He took a leave of absence from his Erie County job in 1982 when he was selected from 75 candidates to be executive director of the District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics in Washington. But he stayed only five months.

After a dispute over the legality of voting rolls, Mr. Filosofos returned to Erie County, despite the pleadings of District of Columbia officials who offered him a $5,000 raise to stay in Washington.

Born in Niagara Falls, his immigrant Greek parents named him Eftherious (lover of freedom), a name he legally changed to Teddy. He graduated from Niagara Falls High School in 1945, and attended the University at Buffalo.

He was a Navy veteran.

Mr. Filosofos was a founding member of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Niagara Falls, where he served as a subdeacon. A spiritual man, he made a pilgrimage to Spruce Island in Alaska to visit St. Herman Seminary, a trip that was personally very important to him.

He also was a founding member of Charles N. DeGlopper Memorial Post 9249, Veterans of Foreign Wars, on Grand Island.

A longtime Grand Island resident, in retirement, he lived in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Survivors include his wife of 57 years, the former Jacqueline Griffith; two sons, T. Argerous and Michael; and a daughter, Denise.

Services will be held at 10 a. m. Monday in St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church, 1073 Saunders Settlement Road, Niagara Falls.