Constantine G Michalopulos: Memory Eternal

Making the Decision to Jump Ship in 1957

George’s beloved father succumbed to Parkinson’s this week.  Being an only child of an only child, I was unprepared for the grief I would feel or to see the hundreds of people who were at the services to pay their respects and say their goodbyes.  

My parents divorced when I was 8 and my mother remarried when I was 11.  I treasure the moments I had with my adopted father, but they were few and far between.

All that changed when I met George’s father, “Deno” AKA “Kosta,” (Constantine George Michalopulos).

He brought me flowers when we first met; a large bouquet with an explosion of color:  persimmon, gold, and purple. 

He did the same for my daughter, Jessica.  He asked George to stop by the florist where he found a small bouquet of little pink roses.

The flowers became a regular thing with Deno.  

George’s dad knew what Jessica and I were facing coming into a Greek family and probably knew we wouldn’t be able to navigate the waters alone.  He asked me about my own parents.  I told him they had both passed, as well as my son, Andrew.  I only had Jessica, who was quite literally everything to me. 

A cloud came over his face when I told him this.  It was later that I learned there is something amiss in the Greek culture about a woman not having a father, brother, or son to take care of her. 

Deno announced right then and there, that he would be our protector and that I was to call him “Dad” from that point forward. 

I remember feeling I didn’t deserve it.

I was so grateful to have him by my side, I often brought him a single flower.  It was my way of telling him how much I needed him and how grateful I was to be included in his family.   

Deno reminded me every time we met, every time we parted, and often in between (through George), that he loved me.  When he said I was his daughter, he meant it.  Because he was the patriarch of the family, his mere presence became a lifeline for me.

* * *

Deno was born February 26, 1934, in the village of Pyrgos Trifilias, in the region of Messenia, in the Greek Peloponnesus.  He was the firstborn son with three sisters and a younger brother.   

Deno’s father was a physician who chose to stay in the war-torn countryside of Greece during and after WWII so he could continue to help the sick and the wounded.  It wasn’t unusual for Deno’s dad to be paid with a chicken or a knit sweater.  They hid in their farmhouse (affectionately known as Vlissidhi) many times during those war-ravaged years, where a young Deno learned how to trap rabbits and kill birds with a slingshot to put food on the table.  

As a young man, Deno became a merchant sailor in order to continue to support his struggling family who had pretty much lost everything thanks to the German occupation and the Greek civil war.  For five years he traveled around the world to exotic places like Egypt, Turkey, Israel, Lebanon, Tunisia, England, Venezuela, Curacao, Aruba, Colombia, Morocco, Brazil, and finally to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where he jumped ship and took a Greyhound bus to Tulsa, Oklahoma!  It was in Tulsa where he met and married George’s mother, Katherine, in April 1958. 

Like a warrior, he never looked back.  

“Whenever a warrior decides to do something, he must go all the way, but he must take responsibility for what he does. No matter what he does, he must know first why he is doing it, and then he must proceed with his actions without having doubts or remorse about them.”  —Carlos Castaneda

Deno was as articulate and well-spoken, as he was well-traveled.  He saw traveling as essential to his family’s education, and because he was employed in the aerospace industry, he was able to take  George, his two sisters, and their mother to Greece (many times, of course) but also to Paris, Rome, Amsterdam, and even Hawaii.

As a result, all three of his children inherited a curiosity about the world which can be traced directly back to him.  

George’s sister, Renee, is a translator who, over the years, has traveled to many small villages throughout all of Greece, learning obscure native dances, which she and her dance troupe exhibit every year at the annual festival.

Gina inherited her brother’s gift of writing and is the author of several articles in various travel magazines. 

Her latest book, Vagabonderie, (Gina Michalopulos Kingsley) is an anthology of travel stories, some of her own and others brought to life through her interviews with fellow travelers.  It is well worth the read and can be purchased through Amazon or Barnes and Nobel. 

Some have described Deno as a “gentle man” and a “gentleman.”  No truer words were ever spoken.  Like George, he was very charming and had the ability to “think outside the proverbial box”, which made him an interesting conversationalist.  Through broken English, games of charades, and God’s mercy we were able to understand each other.  He was one of those people who knew something about everything, from gardening to history, to architecture, to cooking. 

Truth be told, he was a bit of a prankster, too.  Frankly, he could be “laughing out loud” funny!

When George’s son, Denny, was quite young, Deno took him to the Vlissidhi.  Deno planted a little sprig in the ground and told Denny that the trees needed “watering” by one of the Michalopulos men in order to grow.  Denny, of course, “watered” the earth hoping a tree would grow in the very same spot.  After lunch, Deno took Denny to an identical part of the orchard and pointed to a fully grown olive tree.  “See,” he said, “you watered that tree, and look how much it has grown!”  Denny was quite proud of himself, I am told.  Not too many kids can grow a tree in an hour!

Deno had a deep love for God, the Church, and his family.  How he made time to attend services, after repairing whatever needed fixing at the Church, while managing both a part-time and a full-time job, is a mystery.  When other men were out fishing, he’d be at the Church fixing a water closet, rewiring electrical circuits, receiving shipments of candles –you name it.  He was on the Parish Council, various building committees, and the head of the annual food festival.  Every Church luncheon was planned by him.  People came from miles around to attend Church on those days because they knew Deno would be cooking!  

I had some really special times with Deno when he would quote various passages to me in Greek, all from memory.  At our first meeting, he quoted the Troparion from the Feast of the Presentation.  He said that like St. Simeon, he lived to see his son, George, happy, which is something he prayed for.  

His eyes glistened with tears of joy for the wonderful son God gave him.  If you’re blessed to know George, I don’t have to explain why. 

* * *

As was our custom, I threw a single rose on Deno’s casket as they lowered him into the ground.  It was to be the last of the flowers between us and this time, there were tears in my eyes

Tears of gratitude for bringing this wonderful “father” into my life and for his son, George, my forever love.  There are some aspects of George I could only know through his father and I am so grateful God afforded me that opportunity.

Memory eternal, Dad.  You are indeed loved.

Mrs. M   



  1. May his memory be eternal +

    Sorry for your loss George and Gail. Constantine sounds like he was an amazing man with many adventures.

    I’ll say a Trisagion and light a candle for him.

  2. Beautifully written. A well loved man – a true blessing. May his beloved memory be eternal and his soul dwell with the blessed. My sincere condolences.

  3. Memory eternal. And my heartfelt sympathy to your family and all those who knew his love.

  4. Memory Eternal! May God strengthen both of you in your loss!

  5. Dear George,
    Memory Eternal to your beloved father!

  6. Everyone loved Dino. May his memory be eternal.

  7. Their souls shall dwell with the righteous, their memory from generation to generation.

  8. Angela Sinzianu says

    That was truly beautiful. What a blessing for everyone. It brought tears to my eyes too. Memory eternal. Kalo Paradiso. May God grant you all many years to remember him.

  9. Memory eternal!

  10. Constantine Walton says

    Oh Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, remember in Your kingdom now and forever, the servant of God Constantine. May the Lord our God grant him a rich entrance into His eternal kingdom and have mercy upon him and save him, amen.

  11. Wow! What a guy! Memory eternal!

  12. Memory Eternal! Thank you for that beautiful account of a life well lived. May he now inherit the mansions of heaven with all the saints.

  13. Brought tears to my eyes. Αιώνια η μνήμη!!

    Also reminded me of a small plaque I saw on a mountaintop in Athens more than 25 years ago, from Rev. 15: 3-4:

    “Μεγάλα και θαυμαστά είναι τα έργα σου, Κυριε ο Θεός ο παντοκράτωρ…. τίς οὐ μὴ φοβηθῇ, Κύριε, καὶ δοξάσῃ τὸ ὄνομά σου;”

    It’s the little things – the details – in our lives that matter.

    Love you guys. May you take time to mourn, grieve, and remember.

  14. Beautifully written with love and respect Gail.
    George and Family, Memory Eternal Constantinos.
    Αιώνια η Μνήμη ~ Ζωή σε σας

  15. Memory eternal! Αιώνια η μνήμη!

    Losing a father is very tough. No matter what the age.

    It is often said that the Lord takes someone up to Him at the ripest time for that soul. I also think in His wisdom He times that moment for those left grieving as well, for their grief and healthy spiritual reflection to have the maximal effect for their own souls. That’s how it was for me when I suddenly lost my own father.

    And as often is the case, we see things in life more clearly and are more inspired to do good works. To which I say: ζωή σε σας!

  16. I’m sorry guys. ? May his memory be eternal

  17. Very sorry for your loss, George and Gail. May his memory be eternal.

  18. A moving tribute.
    Remember him Lord, in your kingdom.

  19. Chris Banescu says

    Memory Eternal! “Well done good and faithful servant.”

    May the love, grace, and peace of our Lord be with you and your family now and always.

  20. Antiochene Son says

    A very touching tribute. Aionia i mnimi.

  21. It’s tragic to lose one’s father, or one’s surrogate father. God rest Constantine’s soul and comfort his children.

  22. I’m so glad you were able to share such wonderful moments!
    May his memory be eternal!

  23. Memory Eternal!
    May God strengthen you to remember him.

  24. My deepest condolences George to you and all of your family. Memory eternal!

  25. Dino Tsortanidis says

    Thank you for sharing, and my prayerful sympathy to your family, during this difficult time.

    Time will pass and leave you with wonderful memories, and priceless lessons in the art and beauty of living a wonderful life.

    Tears cleanse.

    Jesus wept-John 11:35

    Zoe to us…

    May his memory be eternal!

  26. Memory eternal!

  27. Gail’s heartfelt and moving tribute to her ‘father’ brings to mind that which an illustrious forebear of George once wrote: “Even when the loss of his presence gives us pain, still a certain pleasure arises in our mourning and lamentation; for pain is felt at the loss of the beloved, but pleasure is also experienced in remembering him and, as it were, seeing him as he lived and moved.” from Aristotle’s, Rhetoric
    Memory Eternal

  28. Lenora M Bearer says

    Beautiful tribute, Gail! Our sincerest condolences to both you and George.
    Memory eternal!

  29. He sounds like the kind of Greek that I wish I had grown up around: a real Greek, in the best sense of the word. May his memory be eternal!

  30. Memory eternal to Deno. I knew him throughout my childhood as “Mikey’s grandpa,” and the characterization of him as a gentle person was my experience of him both when I was a child and later as an adult. When I was briefly on the parish council during a very dark and turbulent time when it seemed like everyone was taking sides, Deno was a rare member of the community who didn’t take sides–but not out of cowardice, like others. He refused to take sides and actively voiced and worked toward reunion of the parish in a genuine way. He wanted there to be an olive branch of reconciliation. He held my respect at a time when I realized in a very harsh way that many of the adults I grew up around were not the people I thought they were.

    I also recall him paying my husband a very kind compliment when he met him.

    My condolences to the entire family.