Constantine “Charlie” Kapothanasis of Westbrook, a founder of the Prompto chain of oil change shops in Maine and New Hampshire, died Monday after a brief illness. He was 89.

Mr. Kapothanasis opened his first Prompto location in 1984 on Forest Avenue in Portland. Since then, the company has grown to 24 locations, with another scheduled to open this winter in Scarborough.

“He was a modest and humble person, who had so many people that loved and respected him,” said his son, Paul Kapothanasis of Westbrook. “He was a noble man of very high character and integrity.”

According to his obituary published in Thursday’s newspaper, Mr. Kapothanasis was born in Messinia, Greece, in 1929. He came to Portland in 1957 on a ship on which he was a machinist.

In his early years, he worked as a mechanic specializing in Volkswagens. He founded K Brothers VW Repairs on Ashmont Street in Portland. As the business grew, he recruited his brother in Greece, Tony Kapothanasis, to join him. He ran the auto repair shop for about a decade.

Paul Kapothanasis said his father was the best Volkswagen mechanic in the city during the 1970s. He serviced the cars of prominent Mainers, including local and state politicians, lawyers, doctors and clergymen, his son said.

“He was one of the most trusted mechanics in the city,” he said. “He was a brilliant mechanic and a brilliant businessman, too.”

His son reminisced about the years that he and his two brothers joined their father at work, recalling all of the cars in his lot.

“It was the place to be in Portland,” he said.

The elder Kapothanasis brothers then opened a pre-owned auto dealership on Forest Avenue that lasted about eight years.

Mr. Kapothanasis and his sons founded Prompto in 1984. His son remembered the day he sat with his father and brothers, Christo and Tasso Kapothanasis, and drafted the business plans and designs for the shop.

He spoke highly of the business culture his father created, which focuses on family first. Today, the company has more than 200 employees, many of whom have long tenures with Prompto.

“My father really elicited loyalty and family,” he said. “He was a very patient investor. He would plant small seeds and allow them to flourish. He was a tremendous negotiator. It was win-win with him. The people who did business with him liked doing business with him.”

Mr. Kapothanasis semi-retired about a decade ago, but remained active in the family business until his passing. The Kapothanasis brothers will continue to operate Prompto as their father did throughout his career, Paul Kapothanasis said.

Mr. Kapothanasis was a loving husband to Effie Kapothanasis for 61 years. They married one week after they met at the former Olympia Restaurant on Congress Street in Portland.

In their early years, the couple lived on Washington Avenue in Portland, where they raised three sons.

“Their whole world was the three of us,” his son said. “We were the apple of my father’s eyes. He was about as kind and loving and nurturing as he could be. There was no pressure. He let us be who we are.”

Mr. Kapothanasis was a pillar in Portland’s Greek community. He was a longtime member of the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Portland. He was also a strong supporter of the church’s Greek school.

In his early years, he had a passion for training thoroughbred horses. He was a fixture at Scarborough Downs and at Suffolk Downs in Boston for many years. His son said he trained and owned some of the finest thoroughbreds in New England.

A funeral service will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Portland.

Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at:

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