QUEENS, N.Y. - Jim Christoforou was 67 when he died from the coronavirus, but he still had a lot of living to do after surviving head and neck cancer in 2005 - the result, he believed, of being covered with dust when the World Trade Center collapsed.
"He had that fight. He wanted to live. He wanted life and he was able to beat stage four cancer and we were hoping that this time around he was still going to have that fight, and I know he did, but this was a little different. Unfortunately," said Maria Christoforou, his daughter.
Last year, his daughters finally convinced him to retire from the restaurant business and he had big plans.
"Being with his grandchildren was one of them. We had planned to go to Greece this summer, we were going to go swimming, we were going to go hiking so he definitely had plans. He retired last Summer and this was his next chapter and he was excited for it," Christoforou said.
Christoforou‘s death has devastated his family who say they thought he had a stomach illness at first. He died after battling the virus for about three weeks.
"We thought it was something that he ate and then from there he started to have a cough and within a couple of days he got a fever," Christoforou said.
Unlike many, Christoforou‘s family was able to say to say goodbye to him at the hospital, but it was extremely difficult.
"Unfortunately he was under a lot of medications and he was not coherent or conscious so I’m not sure that he did hear me but I feel fortunate that I was able to have that last moment," Christoforou recalled.
His family said he was a kind and gentle man who loved soccer almost as much he loved his family. He was born in Cyprus. His family moved to the U.S. when he was 13 to start a new life in the restaurant business. They settled in Brooklyn and then Astoria, Queens where he met the love of his life, got married and had two daughters.
Christoforou worked as a bartender, waiter and restaurant manager - at one point near the World Trade Center. He was also able to open his own diner.
"He saved all his money you know working to do that so that was his baby and that’s what he came here for. He had that dream," Christoforou said.
In addition to his daughters, Christoforou leaves behind his wife of 41 years, two grandchildren and five siblings.