On the anniversary of the passing of Stamatis Moraitis, his legacy — and message — live on.
Moraitis, who did not remember his exact age — either 98 or 102 — featured in numerous international media stories touting his puristic way of life on his beloved island of Ikaria.
That same way of life allowed him to outlive the doctors who predicted his death after a lung cancer diagnosis in the 1970s.
Moraitis was a Greek immigrant to the United States. Like many others, he worked hard and built a new life in the “New World.”
In 1976, a cancer diagnosis, “six to nine months to live” and the high cost of funerals in the U.S. convinced him to pack his bags and head back to his native island where he thought he would spend his final months alive.
Moraitis refused chemotherapy and medication that was prescribed by his American doctors and chose a different therapy — nature, community and some of his own good old-fashioned brew.
During what he thought would be his final months on earth, all Moraitis cared about was his garden, his parents’ vineyards and his homemade wine. He did not drink enough, he said jokingly, to be considered an alcoholic — just two or three cups a day.
Six months went by and he did not 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.
Moriatis died peacefully — and not from cancer — on February 3, 2013.
Prior to his death, he had become an international media darling. The New York Times featured him in a story called “The Island Where People Forget to Die.“
Moraitis also featured in other interviews including one with BBC reporter Andrew Bomford.
Renowned celebrity chef and Diane Kochilas’ wrote a cookbook which dives into the Ikarian “food-as-life” philosophy and includes dozens of recipes, photographs and stories from locals.
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