Just 11 days before retirement, long time Richmond Port Director Jim Matzorkis became a victim of COVID-19. Jim’s premier accomplishment was completing the Honda Port of Entry project that has resulted in over a decade of profitability for the Port.
Following is Jim’s obituary:
James Constantine Matzorkis 1952 - 2020
Age 68, died Dec. 20, 2020, at his home in Oakland, CA from complications due to COVID-19. Jim was born Dec. 11, 1952, in Chicago, IL. to the late Gus and Frances (Andos) Matzorkis. They moved to California during his childhood. He spent his adult life in California alongside his wife (and high school sweetheart), Beverly. His deep love of family led him to take on the role of patriarch after Gus' death. He will be remembered as the one who kept in touch, planned reunions, and as an all-around family man. He also loved his ancestral homeland, Greece, and took his family on many trips to Crete, Greece to stay connected with his relatives there. He was a tequila aficionado and loved to travel in Mexico. He also had a love for music and worked for concert promoter, Bill Graham Productions in his early career during which time he forged many enduring lifelong friendships. More recently in his career, Jim traveled frequently to China. Jim worked for 18 years as the Executive Director of the Port of Richmond, CA and was due to retire at the end of this year. He is survived by his wife of 39 years, Beverly; daughters Melanie and Ileana; sisters JoAnn (Allen) and Stacie (David); brother Nick (Susie); and brother-in-law Bob; as well as many nieces and nephews. Because of his love of family, he wanted to be buried in Cleveland near his parents and other relatives. There will be a private graveside service at St. Theodosius Cemetery. A memorial service will be held at a later date. Donations may be sent to the Cretan Club of Cleveland (3853 W 168th St, Cleveland, OH 44111) and condolences may be sent to Beverly Christenson at 2085 Drake Dr., Oakland, CA 94611. www.yurchfunerals.com.
Jim had a colorful career in his younger days that he liked to tell stories about. He worked security as a roadie in the rock and roll industry. While handling a Led Zeppelin concert for Bill Graham Presents, Matzorkis tangled with one of Zeppelin’s crew. Apparently, Matzorkis collected $2 million for his injuries.
When one of Graham’s crew made what Grant took as a remark about his weight, Bindon approached the man and knocked him out. After the show, another of Graham’s staff, Jim Matzorkis, saw a boy removing a sign with the band’s name on it from a trailer door. Matzorkis took the plaque back, explaining that they needed it for the next day’s show. The boy was Grant’s son. Bonham saw the incident and reported it to Grant, who went looking for Matzorkis. Graham tried to intervene, but when Grant and Bindon found Matzorkis taking shelter in a trailer, they threw Graham out, shut the door and began to work the staffer over seriously. Graham tried to get back into the room to stop the beating, but Cole guarded the door, wielding a pipe. Matzorkis later said that when Bindon tried to gouge his eye out, he summoned his strength and escaped the trailer, bleeding. Graham had him rushed to the hospital.
The next day, before Led Zeppelin took the stage, one of the band’s lawyers required that Graham sign a letter of indemnification, releasing the group and its organization of any responsibility for the beating. Graham signed. He didn’t want to risk the chance of a riot if the band wouldn’t play. He also knew that the letter didn’t bind any of Matzorkis’ legal options. Plant tried to reach some sort of conciliation, but Graham wouldn’t speak to him. Disheartened and angry about the whole matter, Page played guitar sitting down for much of the show.
The next morning, an Oakland SWAT team surrounded Led Zeppelin’s hotel, and police officers arrested Grant, Cole, Bindon and Bonham. They were all charged with assault, and Matzorkis filed a $2 million civil suit. (https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-news/the-long-shadow-of-led-zeppelin-184055/).