In Memoriam: Tasso John Conomos

Tasso John Conomos
September 11, 1938 – August 9, 2017


Menlo Park, CA

Tasso John Conomos, beloved husband, cherished father, loving grandfather, and devoted son passed away peacefully with loved ones by his side on August 9, 2017. Ever gracious, he showed the courage to bow out gracefully after a pancreatic cancer diagnosis. As he reflected in recent weeks ~ his cup was full.

Tasso was born in New Kensington, Pennsylvania, on September 11, 1938, to proud Greek immigrant parents, John and Penelope Conomos. Raised as a first generation American with a great appreciation for higher education, Tasso was among the first in his family to attend college. Passionate about science and the great outdoors at a tender age, the one-time Sea Scout received a Bachelor of Science in Geology and earned a Masters in Marine Geology from San Jose State University, then accepted a Fellowship at the Smithsonian Institution and received a Doctorate in Oceanography at the University of Washington (UW). He was later appointed to the UW Department of Oceanography research faculty before an exciting endeavor brought him and his new wife to the California Bay Area in 1969.

Tasso joined the US Geological Survey (USGS) to conduct groundbreaking research on the San Francisco Bay estuarine systems and other west coast estuaries. It was his team’s body of work that ultimately shaped San Francisco Bay environmental policy for the next 40 years. Tasso was later assigned to the role of Regional Research Hydrologist and then Administrator for Hydrologic Research for the Western Region of the USGS – a senior leadership position in which he thrived until his retirement in 2001. Cited for his outstanding contributions to and advocating for water-resource research, program monitoring, and identifying, recruiting, and mentoring hundreds of scientists – Tasso was granted the highest honor of the US Department of the Interior, the Distinguished Service Award, and honored as a world leader in the definition of estuarine processes.

And yet despite his professional success, nothing was more important to Tasso than his wife of 48 years and their three children. He enjoyed spending part of every year in the Sierras, where he indulged his seafaring soul on Lake Tahoe. And he often journeyed to his ancestral homeland of Greece to trace and to honor his family lineage on the island of Kythera. A jack of all trades, Tasso was a master woodworker, a gourmet cook, an incredible mentor, and an esteemed friend to everyone. Dad never knew a stranger.

He is survived by his loving wife, Janice, son John W. Conomos (Amanda), daughters Penelope Benis (Christopher), and Alexa Anderson (Bradley), grandchildren Christopher, Alexander, and Nicholas Benis, Tasso and Basel Conomos, and Luka, Britton, and Annick Anderson. He also leaves behind his devoted mother Penelope Conomos and his loving sister Chrysanthy Conomos.

Tasso is now united in eternal rest with his revered father, John A. Conomos, and his beloved sisters Damiani Conomos and Anastasia Condas.

Services were held at Church of the Holy Cross in Belmont, California. Remembrances may be made in Tasso’s name to Church of the Holy Cross (www.goholycross.org) or the Kytherian Society of California (www.ksoca.com).

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Email the author: The Hellenic Journal

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