You are viewing the print version of this article. Click here to view the full version.
Columbia Missourian

Lou Kontras was a pioneering entreprenuer

By Jennifer Beatty
February 10, 2014 | 8:01 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — Lou Kontras was an entrepreneur who gambled on ideas that were ahead of their time.

In the '60, Mr. Kontras started the first self-serve gas station in Columbia, next to The Heidelberg. He invested in the first coin-operated car wash in town, and he rented motorcycles near Flat Branch.

Those were his brightest ideas, his son Jim Kontras said.

Lou Kontras of Columbia died Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014. He was 87.

He was born Feb. 26, 1926, in Warren, Ohio, to James and Mary (Vafias) Kontras.

His family moved to Granite City, Ill., where Mr. Kontras played on the high school football and basketball teams. When he was 17, he enlisted in the Navy Air Corp as a pilot. His flight training included classes at Notre Dame University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After he finished flight training in Brownsville, Texas, he settled in Columbia. He attended MU from 1947 to 1948.

He married Betty Bratsakis on Oct. 10, 1948. Together they owned several businesses in Columbia, including The Forum Laundry, Louis Washette, and Tiger Hatters and Cleaners.

Mr. Kontras liked to hunt birds with his friends near the Missouri River and the Swan Lake Wildlife Area.

Mr. Kontras is survived by his wife, Betty Kontras; his son, Jim Kontras; his older brother, Gus Kontras; his younger brother, Nick Kontras; two grandchildren, Alexi Kontras and Evan Kontras, of Shawnee, Kan.; and many nieces and nephews.

A sister, Jenny Brake, died earlier.

Visitation will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at Memorial Funeral Home, 1217 Business Loop 70 W. Trisagion Prayers will begin at 7 p.m. Services will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday at St. Luke the Evangelist Greek Orthodox Church, 1510 Audubon Drive. Burial will follow at Memorial Park Cemetery, 1217 Business Loop 70 W.

Memorial contributions can be made to St. Luke the Evangelist Greek Orthodox Church, 1510 Audubon Drive, Columbia MO 65201.

Tributes can be posted online at