Ioannis Gionis was born in about 1894. His parents died when he was 6 years old. His uncles sent him to work in Egypt as a servant in order to make an unchallenged claim on his father’s estate. His sister was sent to Kalivia as a servant and his younger brother was sent to Glyfada, Athens, to work in a pig rearing business.
The family story goes that Ioannis later worked in the kitchen of the English consulate at Port Said where he learned how to make sweets working as a kitchen hand. At age 17 Ioannis joined the Greek Army as a volunteer where he fought in the 1913 Balkan Wars in northern Greece – first against Ottoman Forces in the Battle of Bizani (First Balkan War) - and then against Bulgarian Forces in the Battle of Kilkis (Second Balkan War). Ioannis was awarded two medals by King Constantine I who commanded the Greek Army in each battle.
Ioannis spent 8 years in Asia Minor (1914-22) with the ill-fated challenge by the Greek army to wrest control of the area from the Ottomans. Afterwards he returned to Greece, where in 1924 he opened a sweet making business in Pireaus called Meliritos Anoixis.
The business prospered until the onset of the Great Depression in 1932. A significant investment in shares of Barbaresso Ouzo was rendered worthless, and the share certificates were used as paper aeroplanes by his youngest children. The business remained open during WWII.
After WWII Ioannis volunteered to fight against the Greek Communists in order to protect the local area around Pireaus in what became the Greek Civil War (1946-49). Ioannis was caught and accused of being a monarcho-facist by the communists and died whilst held captive. His body was discovered on the feast day of St John on 6 January by pro-government soldiers following a successful assault in the area of Kokkinia in Piraeus, Athens.