Remembering Stamatis Moraitis: The Man Who (Almost) Forgot to Die


Two years after the passing of Stamatis Moraitis, his legacy— and message— live on. Moraitis, who didn’t remember his exact age, either 98 or 102— was featured in numerous international media stories touting his puristic way of life on his beloved island of Ikaria and the fact that almost four decades after a lung cancer diagnosis— he even outlived his doctors who predicted his imminent death back in the 1970s.

Moraitis was a Greek immigrant to the United States. Like so many others, he worked hard and built a new life in the “New World.” A cancer diagnosis and “six to nine months to live” in 1976, as well as the high cost of funerals in the United States, convinced him to pack his bags and head back to the island of his birth, to spend what he thought would be his final months alive.

He refused chemotherapy and medication that was prescribed by his American doctors and chose a different therapy. Nature, his community— and some good old fashioned brew of his very own.

All he cared about was his garden, his parents’ vineyards and his homemade wine— not enough, he says jokingly, to be considered an alcoholic— just two or three cups a day.

Six months went by and he didn’t die. Not only that— but he felt stronger and his health actually continued to improve. He ended up living almost 40 years after his doctor-prescribed expiration date. He died peacefully— and not from cancer, two years ago on February 3, 2013.

Prior to his death, he became an international media darling— featured in a New York Times story called “The Island Where People Forget to Die” and numerous other stories and interviews, including a BBC interview with Andrew Bomford.

Inspired by Stamatis Moraitis’ story? Get Diane Kochilas’ book: Ikaria: Lessons on Food, Life, and Longevity from the Greek Island Where People Forget to Die