Chris V. Semos Campus Students Receive New Display Case

Chris V. Semos display
Chris V. Semos family members, courtesy photo

The family of the late Chris V. Semos recently unveiled a display case on permanent loan at The Chris V. Semos Campus, Rosemont Primary School in Oak Cliff. The decorative exhibition contains information about the longtime public servant’s distinguished life and career, to help the students understand why their campus bears his name.

The exhibition was lovingly organized by his widow, Anastasia; and two of their three daughters: Mary Katherine (M.K.) Semos Garcia and Victoria Semos; and son-in-law Hugo Garcia. (A third daughter, Kristina, lives in Jersey City). Along with photos and memorabilia from his life and his lengthy public service career, the display contains a few of Chris’s favorite childhood toys.

Anastasia & Hugo placing Coco in display
Courtesy photo

Coco’s Tale

Prominently featured is Coco, his beloved teddy bear. Anastasia Semos Shelton wrote Coco’s Tale, a children’s guidebook for the students in the Chris V. Semos Lower Campus, grades K-2. With her permission, we’ve excerpted portions of the book that’s written in Coco’s words.

“This is a story about a very special person, Chris V. Semos. Your school is named after him. I was Chris’s teddy bear when he was a young boy…. Chris’s story starts on June 2, 1936 at Dallas Methodist Hospital on Colorado Blvd. His parents, Victor H. Semos and Evelyn T. Semos, are shown in a picture with Chris. Victor came to the United States from Greece and became a citizen and business man. Evelyn was of Greek descent born in Passaic, NJ. Chris was taught to speak Greek and English and made many trips to Greece with his parents. Chris learned to appreciate his parents’ native land, the language and the culture. Chris was bilingual. Your school is a bilingual campus.”

“In 1948, Chris’s parents opened a Greek Restaurant named “The Torch of Acropolis.” Guess what kind of food they served? (Souvlaki & Hamburgers.) Do you see Chris in the kitchen with the cooks on opening night? (1947). As a young man in his 20s, he managed the restaurant after he graduated from SMU and later a hotel restaurant school in Europe.”

Chris V. Semos Leadership Roles

“Chris became a leader early in his life. In his twenties, he became President of his church, National President of GOYA (Greek Orthodox Youth of America), and a participant in “Goals for Dallas” sponsored by Mayor J Erik Jonsson. Chris joined clubs and worked for the community. He was a Boy Scout and at 18 he joined the WestCliff Lion’s Club to help others. He remained a Lion always.”

“Because of his leadership skills and service to others, in 1965, Chris was asked to run for public office by Dallas Congressman Joe Pool. And that’s exactly what he did!… and he won election to the Texas House of Representatives in 1966 representing District 33-in which you live.”

Chris V. Semos display
Courtesy Photo

“Chris married in February of 1967 to Anastasia Kontos and started his first term in the Texas House of Representatives that same year as a freshman legislator. He served 16 years in the Texas House. He served as Chairman of several committees. Some of his gavels are hanging in your Library. His most important chairmanship was the Committee of Business and Industry. Tourism was one of the committee’s responsibilities.”

“Chris knew how important tourism is to the State of Texas. Because he loved his State of Texas and tourism, he came up with the idea of celebrating the State’s 150th year of Independence. Not just in Dallas, but in all parts of the State. Governor Bill Clements liked the idea and Chris passed a bill in 1977 to create a committee to celebrate the 150th birthday of the State. Chris was appointed Chairman of the committee.”

Father of the Sesquicentennial

“Guess what the name of the celebration became? The Sesquicentennial Committee and Celebration. The birthday party for the state was held in 1986. It was a big success. Lots of tourists came and everyone celebrated all year long! Texas made lots of money.”

“In 1982, Representative Chris V. Semos gave up his seat in the Texas Legislature and ran for County Commissioner in District 4, where you live, and he won. State Representative Chris V Semos became Dallas County Commissioner Chris V Semos. He passed rules and laws with three other commissioners and one County Judge for the County of Dallas. He served in this position until 1996.”

“There are many awards and plaques in the case with me. There are more in your Library. I hope you enjoyed the story of Chris and the naming of your school. This is only part of Chris V. Semos’ story.”

Chris V. Semos Lower Campus display
Courtesy Photo

Chris V. Semos Resolution by Gov. Perry

One of the official documents found in the display is a resolution signed by Texas Gov. Rick Perry at the time of Chris Semos’ death at age 68 on June 14, 2004. Gov. Perry praised his lengthy civic service, including his 16 years in the state legislature, and his chairmanship of numerous important committees. He also praised Chris’s ability to build consensus as a Dallas County Commissioner for 12 years.

The document also mentions the many illustrious boards and worthy causes Chris Semos served in the years after leaving public service. He was awarded the Samaritan Award by Dallas Baptist University; the Humanitarian Award from the Oak Cliff Lions Club; among others.

The students at The Chris V. Semos Campus can take pride and inspiration in the legacy of leadership and good works found in the display. Family members plan to update the exhibition periodically, since there are many more documents, plaques, and other memorabilia from his life and lengthy public service career..

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Jo Ann Holt
Jo Ann Holt is an award-winning journalist with 40+ years of experience as a writer and editor. She loves live performances, from country music concerts to Broadway musicals to community theatre productions. Holt also enjoys art and cultural festivals, and good food and wine. She’s toured Amsterdam, London, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, and various cities in Mexico but looks forward to visiting even more countries. She has traveled by boat, plane, and train, but especially likes taking long road trips across the U.S. with her husband, retired history professor Durhl Caussey. They enjoy meeting friendly people, learning about different cultures, and visiting historic sites wherever they go.