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Cero, Edward J.

Cero, Edward J.

March 10, 1938 — September 21, 2022

Edward John Cero (known in Greek as Anastasios) was born in Wichita, Kansas on March 10, 1938 to Ethel Lagas and John Edward Cero along with two younger brothers, Dean and Larry.  He passed away September 21st, 2022.

Ed was raised in a very traditional Greek household and was proud of his heritage which could be traced back to Arkadia and Tripoli in Greece.

He often shared stories of spending the summers visiting his grandparents and relatives in Kansas City as a young boy. He had fond of memories helping in his grandparents’ drug store, Lagas Drugs in downtown Kansas City, MO. As he grew older, he continued making trips to see his KC relatives and on one of those trips he met his beautiful young wife Maria and convinced her to move to Wichita. Maria’s sisters Eleni (Johnson) Zounis, Efi (Johnson) Young, and brother’s Pat Johnson and Steve Johnson (d.) embraced Ed into their family and many trips and holidays were spent with his new extended family.

He briefly considered various careers including podiatry and enrolled in the Univ. of Chicago but eventually realized his calling in life was to take over the family business. Cero’s Confections had been in the Cero family since 1885 when “Candy Pete” emigrated to the US from Greece. After taking over the business in 1974, he used his ingenuity and creativity to establish new products such as Panorama Easter Eggs and then expanded into wedding cakes and custom corporate logos made of chocolate. Cero’s made custom chocolate molds for most of the major businesses in Wichita during the late 80’s and early 90’s.

Ed and Maria opened their home to Greek exchange students. Despite having a small family of his own, holidays were full of these students, and others who needed a place to go. Looking back, holidays were the busiest time for him with his business, but he always made time to welcome large groups at home.

He enjoyed having his niece Effie (Zounis) Stojka live in Wichita after she graduated from Northwestern and began her career. She grew close with him and he loved having a second daughter in the house.

Ed and his wife Maria sold the family business and moved to Kansas City after it was clear his daughter, Leah, was pursuing her own career and was settling in Kansas City. While Ed only had one daughter, she married into a strong Irish catholic family of 9 children who quickly adopted Ed as their own. The FitzGerald’s “revolutionized” the Estate Sale business in Kansas City bringing creativity and fun to stodgy old folks trinket hunting, and Ed was a huge part of the fun by providing “Greek Security”. Grey Gardens Estate Sales had a loyal following before the “real” Grey Gardens did not appreciate the humor, and shut down the business, but Ed’s Greek Security moniker lived on.

He was loved by his sister-in-law, Efi Young, and her children; Konstantine, Maria and Fred whose girls brought him much joy. Konstantine became like a son to him bringing him treats and dinners, and they were very close.

He was a proud Papou of 4 grandchildren, Nicholas, Ryan, Fiona and Quinn. He encouraged them to learn Greek language, history, and shared his many hobbies and talents with them. He was always encouraging them to reach for their dreams.

He was in charge of the “shipping department” for Custom Rosaries By Fitz which began as a cottage business by his oldest grandson, Nick. It has since flourished and has been passed down from Nick to Ryan and now to Quinn (who at one point went on strike claiming child labor violations), and Fiona. While “ownership” has changed, the one constant was Papou and the “shipping department” which has shipped over 4,000 handmade custom rosaries all over the world to young moms looking for first communion gifts. Many Saturdays and Sundays were spent around the dining room table making rosaries with his grandchildren, their employee-friends, his wife Maria and Irene FitzGerald. We are grateful for this quality time spent, and it will forever be treasured.

He was very creative and loved to paint and draw. Many of his pastels and paintings hang in the homes of many of us. He later became fascinated with Iconography and in particular Ethiopian Icons and learned how to “write” them. He shared this technique with his youngest grandson Quinn. The icon they made together was a treasure to him.

After he sold his business, he preserved the Cero’s Candy legacy by painting plaster figures made from the antique chocolate molds that were once used to make chocolate Santas and Easter bunnies. There is not a FitzGerald, a neighbor or a friend without at least one of these in their home.

He also preserved the Cero legacy by keeping up the art of home-made ribbon Candy and Candy Canes. He passed this technique down to family and friends through the annual Candy Cane making party, which has kicked off the holiday season for the past decade.

He was strong in his faith and while he could never embrace the cell phone, he managed to find live stream Greek services on his Google Home device.

He was very social and never met a stranger. He was a regular at the local coffee houses where he often ran into many people whom he enjoyed visits with. He was active in his condo HOA and made friends with literally everyone in the building. Wine & Chocolate nights, Friday Lunch Groups, Wednesday Game Nights, Mahjong and Sunday morning breakfasts with the FitzGeralds after church became a regular occurrence in his life. To know Ed was to love him. His gentle spirit and kind soul will live on in the hearts of all he met and loved.

Ed is survived by his wife, Maria (Johnson) Cero, daughter Leah (Cero) FitzGerald, her husband Matt FitzGerald, Grandchildren; Nick, Ryan, Fiona and Quinn FitzGerald, his brothers Dean Cero and Larry Cero, his in-laws, Eleni (Johnson) Zounis, Efi (Johnson) Young, and Pat Johnson, 46 FitzGeralds & countless friends.

Services will be held on Monday, September 26 with the Trisagion (prayer service) beginning at 9:00 am, followed by a funeral at 10:00 am at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, 12001 Wornall Rd, Kansas City, MO 64145; entombment in Forest Hill Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to either Annunciation Greek Orthodox church or The Children’s Place (Kansas City, MO) a trauma treatment agency for underprivileged youth in the KC Metro https://www.childrensplacekc.org/

Η ζωή είναι οικογένεια, φίλοι και σοκολάτα

Service Information

Services will be held on Monday, September 26 with the Trisagion (prayer service) beginning at 9:00 am, followed by a funeral at 10:30 am at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, 12001 Wornall Rd, Kansas City, MO 64145; entombment in Forest Hill Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to either Annunciation Greek Orthodox church or The Children’s Place (Kansas City, MO) a trauma treatment agency for underprivileged youth in the KC Metro https://www.childrensplacekc.org/

Η ζωή είναι οικογένεια, φίλοι και σοκολάτα

Cero, Edward J.'s Guestbook

Ed and Maria where two of the first Folks I met when I moved into Parkway Towers. I could always count on a BIG Smile and an enthusiastic and fun conversation! Ed will be missed! Rest in Peace! Mark

Mark Ogren

What a beautiful tribute to Ed - he was such a lovely man!

Megan FitzGerald

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