The name Giannopoulos has a large footprint in the area.
Dr. Peter H. Giannopoulos attended the University of Virginia, going on to Temple Medical School. In 1959, he joined the U.S. Army. He was stationed for his internship at Valley Forge Army Hospital, acquiring the rank of captain. After being discharged, he stayed on as consultant for a short time. In 1962, he opened his practice in Phoenixville.
Dr. Giannopoulos was best known as “Dr. G” with his patients and associates. I believe it was due to the fact most could not pronounce his name. He was one of the area’s most popular doctors.
He and Dr. Donald Harrop formed a partnership lasting approximately 28 years. They rotated hours out of the same office on Main Street near Phoenixville Hospital. While Dr. Harrop was the coroner for Chester County, Dr. G was his deputy coroner for 24 years, after which Dr. G became the coroner from 1990 to 1998.
When Dr. G first started out, his office visits cost $4, with house calls at $5. Along with a general practice, he was a popular OB-GYN. He delivered 1,200 to 1,300 babies. He had to stop the deliveries due to the high-rising cost of malpractice insurance. As with many doctors, he could no longer afford it. When he was delivering babies, he charged $150, including pre- and post-delivery. Compared to cost of having a baby today, that was just “a drop in the bucket.”
Speaking of babies, on the home front was his wife, Jacqueline, known as Jackie. It was a busy household, as there are five Giannopoulos children. All five were born within eight years — Harry, Peter R., John, Wendy and Glenn.
It was during this time that my mom, known as Mrs. Banjack, became involved in their lives. At first, once a week, she helped Mrs. G with the household cleaning. My mom was one of those people who actually liked to clean. Did I say like? I should have said loved to clean. So, it wasn’t so much a job, more like an added treat.
From there, she went on to help out the household in other ways. She would babysit, and often she would bring one or more of the kids home with her. This all created a loving bond between the family and my mom. Mrs. G considered her an added grandmother to the family.
Speaking of Mrs. G., in 1959, she and Dr. G moved from Havertown to Phoenixville for his internship at Valley Forge Army Hospital. They dated for five years prior to their marriage 63 years ago.
I want to tell you at this time I have switched over from calling him Dr. G to “Doc.” That is what everyone calls him these days, including his grandkids. Jokingly, he tried to get the grandkids to call him "Grand Doc," but it did not work. He is still “Doc.”
In 1998, “Doc” and Jackie retired, moving to Hilton Head, S.C. They lived on the 18th hole of the Golden Bear Golf Club. It was a golfing community, so it seemed everyone there played golf all the time. They must have been “golfed-out,” as they returned to Phoenixville in 2008.
What started out as a home brewing kit received as a Christmas gift for the two of the older boys, 25 years later began what I call the “Sly Fox Empire.” It was one of the first restaurants that started to brew its own beer. Today, the brand can be purchased in six states and D.C., as well as St. Croix. St. Croix is an affiliate and known as Leatherback Brewing Co., so named after the leatherback turtle, which is an endangered species.
Locally, there is a Sly Fox Brew Pub on Kimberton Road. There is another larger pub and the brewery in Pottstown, which handles most of the brewing. In several months, a brew pub will be opening in Wyomissing. Down the road, there are plans to open one in Malvern and two in Pittsburgh.
It is a family core business with many of the Giannopoulos family involved. Peter, Harry and John handle the day-to-day running of the business.
Recently, I had lunch with “Doc” and Mrs. G at the Sly Fox on Kimberton Road. This gave me an opportunity to talk with Peter, who jokingly told me, “The more successful you become, the more debt you have.”