Anthony Vraim is a man who has lived two lives. One as a second-generation owner of the first Greek-American funeral home (Philadelphia area), Vraim Funeral Service; the other, which has been a secret for the past 30 years, as an operator for the NSA. “God bless my dad. He told me I could do anything I wanted to do after I became a funeral director”, said Vraim during his interview.
Antonios Yiannis Vraimopoulos (Tony) grew up in Philadelphia and Upper Darby. His family hails from Velvendo in Northeastern, Greece. Vraim graduated from Upper Darby High School and then went to Temple University, where he earned a degree in Chemistry. An avid lover of music, he also participated in the performing arts throughout his life. His family’s business introduced him to a diverse range of cultures while growing up, and this is where he attained a working knowledge of many languages.
In the 1970s, Vraim wanted to serve his country in the armed forces but failed because of an ulcer. His determination led him to join the Merchant Marines, where he quickly rose to the rank of Captain. A representative of the NSA took notice of him and his background and recruited Vraim. Over the next 30 years, Vraim was assigned to work in various parts of the world, especially South America, where he observed and reported on the governmental hierarchies and the conditions in those countries.
All the while, Vraim continued to manage the affairs of the family-owned and operated funeral home. The Vraim funeral home was established by his father John in 1950 in West Philadelphia. Eventually, in 1964, John purchased and renovated part of the Sellers estate at 66 South State Road in Upper Darby, where they continue to service the Greek-American and surrounding communities.
Today, Vraim is retired from both but still oversees the affairs of Vraim Funeral home. His love of the arts continues. He lives in Atlantic City, NJ, where he manages a theatre group.
Originally published on Cosmos Philly by Eleftherios Kostans. Video by Vasilis Keisoglou.