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American Hellenic Institute Expresses Its Deep Sorrow on the Passing of Dr. Nicholas D. Matsakis
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: C. Franciscos Economides
December 17, 2009—No. 88 (202) 785-8430

American Hellenic Institute Expresses Its Deep Sorrow on the Passing of Dr. Nicholas D. Matsakis

WASHINGTON, DC—Dr. Nicholas D. Matsakis was born to Karpathian immigrant parents in Pittsburgh, PA in 1914. When he was seven, his family returned to Karpathos to help take care of the family’s gardens, fields, goats and sheep. In 1929, he went to Cyprus to attend the seminary that his uncle George Matsakis was running in Larnaca. In 1933, after graduating from the seminary, he returned to the U.S. where he graduated from the Washington University School of Dentistry in 1940. He supported himself by working almost around the clock - teaching Greek school and working in restaurants in Steubenville, Ohio, Lowell, Massachusetts, and in St. Louis, Missouri. During WW II he achieved the rank of Major in the US Army and was active in the Greek War Relief effort. After the war, in 1945, he married Theodora Sakellarides Papageorge of Karpathia.

In 1955, he formed the St. Louis Justice for Cyprus Committee, which began an information campaign and organized educational events, including a 1957 visit by the late Archbishop Makarios of Cyprus. He also initiated a comprehensive letter-writing campaign to local and Greek newspapers and government officials, which resulted in meetings with US legislators and State Department officials. In 1964, the Justice for Cyprus Committee raised over $20,000 for the victims of the Turkish bombings on Cyprus and in 1974, the Committee immediately raised $60,000 for relief and has since adopted over 318 orphans and needy children and donated money for their care.

He was appointed Honorary Counsel for the Republic of Cyprus in 1970 and served till 1993; was cofounder and active member of the American Hellenic Institute, and helped found the permanent Cyprus Committee of AHEPA.

In the last few years, he led a successful effort to establish a Chair of Greek Studies at the University of Missouri in St. Louis. In recognition of these efforts, the University of Missouri established the “Nicholas and Theodora Matsakis Hellenic Cultural Center for International Studies.” In 1991, Dr. Matsakis received AHI’s Special Citation for Community Service Award at its 16th Anniversary Awards Dinner. He was also honored by AHEPA in 1997 and the Cyprus Federation of America in 2003. In 2007, the government of Greece recognized his efforts by awarding him the Order of the Phoenix Gold Cross.

Our profound and heartfelt condolences to his beloved wife Theodora, sons, Demetrios Matsakis of Washington and Elias Matsakis of Chicago; daughter, Aphrodite Matsakis of Washington; seven grandchildren; and five great grandchildren.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Justice for Cyprus Committee of Greater St. Louis, c/o Michael Tsiaklides, 8420 Delmar Boulevard, Suite 303A, St. Louis, Mo. 63124; or to the Nicholas and Theodora Matsakis Hellenic Culture Center, University of Missouri-St. Louis Center for International Studies, 366 Social Sciences Building, 1 University Boulevard, St. Louis Mo. 63121.

He will be greatly missed. May His Memory Be Eternal. AXIOS!!

 

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For additional information, please contact C. Franciscos Economides at (202) 785-8430 or at pr@ahiworld.org. For general information about the activities of AHI, please see our Web site at http://www.ahiworld.org.