Konstantino John Alfieris 1905-1977

Konstantino (Gus) was born in Alexandria, Egypt, until he was almost three years old.  He, along with his mother and sister, Spyrithoula, sailed by themselves to Ellis Island where they were detained for a few weeks because Gus had pink eye.  His father, John, had arranged for their passage to America and brought them to Oakland, California, once they were released from Ellis Island.  John and Maria settled in West Oakland where they raised all their children.


Maria, Spyrithoula and Konstantino in 1907.


The Alfieris children at their West Oakland home, circa 1917.   Gus sits at the far right.

As the eldest son, Gus was responsible for his parents’ well-being.  Lacking an education past the 8th grade, he earned money by working odd jobs, bartering, trading, and selling metal and eventually used cars.


Above: Gus (on the left) and his younger brother, Harry, circa 1927.  Below: Working an odd job on a farm in El Cerrito, near Oakland


By the time he was in his early 20s Gus had built a substantial and thriving business in West Oakland. Soon after WWII, he  bought a large, two-storey home on MacArthur Boulevard in Oakland, Lake Merritt.  He and his family lived on the first floor.  He took his parents out of West Oakland and moved them to the second floor of this home.  For the next decade, this became the family home that welcomed all John and Maria’s grandchildren.   The property included a large backyard where the grandchildren played  and the family gathered for parties.  Here are John and Maria in 1953 standing at the center of their seven children and spouses in the backyard.  Gus and his wife, Vivian,  stand at Maria’s left.


In the late 1950s, the City of Oakland demolished many homes along that boulevard to make way for the 580 freeway.  Gus purchased a home for his parents on Athol Avenue in Oakland, a block from Lake Merritt, and moved them in.  He and his family moved to a new home in Pleasant Hill.  Gus and his brothers supported their parents financially for most of their lives, and they visited them each week to monitor their well-being.

Gus met his wife, Vivian, when she was 15 and immediately married her in 1926, deviating from the tradition that Greek boys marry Greek girls.  Oddly, Gus rarely, if ever, went to the Greek Orthodox church my grandparents were so deeply involved in, both religiously and socially.  Of all their children, he was the only one who kept his distance from religion and the Greek community.

Gus and Vivian had a daughter, Olive, whom they nicknamed Lolly.  She was born in 1927.  She was his parent’s first grandchild.  She lived with Gus and Vivian until she married Don Fairclough in 1950.  Gus gave her an elaborate wedding.  She’s pictured here with her grandparents, Maria and John.


A heavy smoker, Gus died at age 72 of lung cancer.  He was survived by his wife, his daughter, and two grandchildren, Steven and Sandra Fairclough.  He was a kind-hearted man, always watching over the family.  He was extremely active in the Masons and then the Shriner organizations once he established his business and became affluent.  He brought both his brothers, Harry and Milton, into the Masons.