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Marjorie and Sam


Giving thanks.

They made a difference in this world, enriching the lives of those around them with their kindness and generosity.

Marj and Sam 2006

Marjorie – 1929 to  November 7, 2015

Spyros “Sam” – 1921 to November 27, 2009



Marj and Sam 2006







I watch you write letters of Christmas.

Your heart guides the point of your pen,

As it renders sp
eech to intangible feelings

(hydroactive feelings)

That ebb, rest, or flow,

tides of the sea of life in many forms….

Lakes of familiarity, influential factors fixed….

Gushing springs of renewal, resource cisterns calm and cool….

Sometimes floods swell, bursting in passion….

Rivers of sweet hope meander

toward their destinations….

And above them all, the sharing mode

of love’s gentle rain:

All distilled by you into incomparable

gifting messages of vibrant

and warm expression

That happily ripple and enrich the same waters

of the people who receive them!

*      *     *

(I admiringly wish you rewarding holidays.)

Sam 12/18/07

53 times

San DIego 1106 095

Marjorie, come,
The bells have rung!
53 times our song has sung.
It’s clear to all, and not just some
That our long great venture has made us one.

With each other in spirit we’ve danced, Fueled, and steeled, by love and devotion’s stance which blossomed from a cliff-climbing Ozark romance.

Beginning with Nietzsche and tree-hugging Wooster, to the Inn Season Cafe’,
From Morgantown to Pleasant St to Guilderland
to Ingleside Rd to Atwood, aye,
Through the burgs of Pitts and Harris, Pennsylvaniay, You have hung in there with me the entire way.

And now, whence?

Well, let’s dine at Lily’s Seafood Cafe’ hence also enjoy The Cooler’s humor thence. next to Marino’s food events.

Through it all, I confirm that (despite the domino effect) I loved you in the past, do so in the present, and shall do so in the future tense.

(As was said about West Virginia’s mountain water, Marj, it’s just plain common sense!)


Birthday Poem

Marjorie finding beauty

San DIego 1106 089

This is a very special birthweek, featuring the

arrival on earth of such eminent human beings as the

Reverend Martin Luther King, the Reverend Oscar Olson,

and, Marjorie, you.   And your paths in life have

since crossed.

There was the occasion, when you were 21, of

Reverend Olson uniting you to fortunate me, the

first time he presided over this important process.

Then there was the memorable 1967 sermon in

the Cleveland Antioch church by Dr King, which you

attended, when you were both 38.  There was visible

only one other white woman amidst the congregation

of hundreds, which is a tribute to you as well as your

presence then was to Dr King.

So now you are 75, three-quarters of the way Home.

May your way be sunny with health, and flowered with love,

as by these Primroses.  And may the attached coins, such as

your ancestors used, be the root of riches to come.

Mother’s Day 1972


In 1971, Anthe Vutetakis, son Spyros Vutetakis, daughter Helen Krikos and grandson George Vutetakis, visited Crete. It was the first time Anthe had stepped foot on the island in over fifty-two years. Every year Spyros would give his mother a poem as a gift on Mother’s Day. This one was inspired by the celebrated visit.

Now you’ve been a mother for 51 years, and a yaya for 22.

You have done it very well, as you can tell

By just looking at the people around you.

We each have our ideas, our style and our place, but

one feeling together embrace:

Much more than a mother you are- the roses in our garden,

a faithful friend in our lives, a warm magnet that

gathers us from afar.

The Lord surely guided patera to Plakoures, and then

gave us to you

And lovingly gave you to us.

So there’s a song in our souls, let your ears and your heart

have their fill:

We love you….metera, yaya, friend….and always will.


The Beauty poem


With the kindness of its weather,

San Diego has developed multiple forms of beauty.

(My words of enthusiasm are difficult to restrain.)

The soil harbors and embraces plants which give birth

to hundreds of varieties of flowers.

Their creative method of procreation is:

they make their flowers so fragrant and colorful

that the bees and other pertinent species

are attracted to visit,

To collect their nectar, and thereby leave tracks

from gathering visits to neighboring flowers.

The plants then “eat”, and become happily pregnant.

This is the intelligence of beauty!

Now the plants we call ‘trees’ reach high for the sky

and its sunshine.

Each family has its own leaf formation, and height,

their arms lissome to the winds,

as their hair of leaves is tousled.

And we humans too enjoy our views of them.

~Spyros Vutetakis 2007


Today was a cold damp day. My painter friend showed up about 10am. Mary Cay and I finished the kitchen and started on a garden room / breezeway at the back of the house. I had your photo gallery up and sat down to take a look. As I scrolled through each photo I began to get a feeling for the dynamic man your father was. I so wish I could have known him.

When I hit the “next ” button and the shot of you and him appeared with the vasilopita, I choked up and tears came to my eyes. Mary Cay came into the room and silently put her hand on my back and I became one with that moment. In the photo I could smell the bread and feel the pride. It is most intense the moment before the first slice, when you make the sign of the cross above the bread with the knife. The moment you feel most Greek. Perhaps it was that after twenty some years of this tradition, I had simply never seen a photo of someone with one of my breads. I think it was that this man, this proud Greek, got to know a teeny little part of me that that photo captured. What an honor.

Every evening after Mary Cay and I go to bed and turn out the lights, one of us , in the silence, will ask “best part?” The other will take a moment and think through the day and share what their best part was. Tonight, mine will be seeing that photo of you and Spyros on that new years morning.

Thank you George and Sara

Vasilis Loizos

A Veteran of WWII


I am an infantry combat veteran of WWII, and do not easily cry, but

I cry as I read of the personal lives of our latest soldiers to needlessly die,
as I gaze on their youthful faces.

I feel for their parents who had hoped,
I feel for the widows, who too had hoped,
and I cry for their small children.

My heart is heavy
because they shouldn’t be in Iraq in the first place!

I cry as they die.

Written by Sam Vutetakis
April 9, 2004

Sam was a proud veteran of two overseas tours during World War II.  Both deployments affected his life deeply.  The first tour was “overseas” in Alaska, where he saw no combat, but developed a lifelong love and respect for mountainous wilderness.

Combat Incident

John returned from a patrol amused.

A German had approached him with arms up,
to surrender.

And John shot him:

“You should have seen the look on his face!”
he tells us, laughing.

I pondered, and thought of the German man’s mother:


Spyros Vutetakis 1945

The second was in the 3rd Army, 71st Division, 14th Regiment as an infantry soldier in France and Germany.  There,  he witnessed the intensity of combat, the horrors of war and the horrific results of the holocaust.  This front-line experience was the basis of his life-long conviction that peace was the right course for humanity, at all cost.  At every opportunity he would write, attend protests and talk about the value and sanctity of a human life.   He did this with a deep philosophical understanding, benevolent humor and a kind heart. gv

A Favorite Quote

Your days are short here;

This is the last days of your springs.

And now in the serenity and quiet

Of this lovely place, touch the depths

Of truth, feel the hem of Heaven.

You will go away with old, good friends.

And don’t forget when you leave

why you came.

~Adlai Stevenson

An Interview With Mrs Allen

Mrs Allen with Spyros Vutetakis, recorded 1975

My father, Spyros  (Sam) Vutetakis, passed away November 27, 2009.  He was an unusual man in many ways; his sense of history centered around people as individuals and the power each of us have to influence history in both action and speech.  In the last few months I have collected and archived his poetry, family history, stories of his WWII experience and numerous audio and video recordings.  Some of my earliest childhood memories are of him carrying his dicta-phone home from the office to interview the family;  in addition to that, he always seemed to have a camera and tape recorder close at hand.
My grandparents, James and Anthe, emigrated to Utah where my father was born.  The family had a colorful history as freedom fighters in Chania as they struggled for Cretan independence.  Spyros and his siblings grew up hearing the stories.  James came to Utah with two large steamer trunks containing records and artifacts from the Cretan revolt, but lost one of them to fire.  My father always lamented that loss as he labored through the years to piece together the dramatic events that were so much a part of his heritage.  It was a labor of love.
In the Castle Gate mining disaster of 1923, more than fifty of my grandparent’s friends perished.  For them, it was the last straw, so they picked up and moved the family to Canton, Ohio.  It was there that my father encountered the ugly face of discrimination for the first time.  His swarthy Greek complexion made him an immigrant outcast; hard to believe, but many of the immigrants who built this country were treated as second class citizens.
My dad enlisted in the army during World War II.  His first tour of duty was in Alaska; troops were they stationed there to stave off the threat of a Japanese invasion.  His second tour was France and then Germany as an infantry rifleman in Patton’s 3rd Army.  It was an experience which left him with a lifelong dedication to working for peace.  While in the army he then again was faced with discrimination because of his difficult to pronounce name.  He also became aware that the African-American units were frequently given the most dangerous assignments.
The horrors of the war led him to become a social worker.  First for a Jewish agency in Pittsburgh and then in Albany as one of the first gentiles assisting Holocaust victims.  From there he became a gerontologist, working at the Benjamin Rose Institute in Cleveland.   I came to know his profession first-hand as he would frequently bring my brother or me along to visit his favorite clients, many of whom had no family left.  He marveled at the stories they had to tell and began documenting and recording some of them.
In the early 1970’s Mrs Allen, one of his clients, was over 80 years old.  She was African-American, but her complexion was so light, she was often confused for Caucasian.  My father asked if he could record an interview with her  so everyone could benefit from her unusual story.  It is one example of the many special people he encountered.
I share the interview here in memory and spirit of his honoring each person he believed deserved appreciation.  He had a unique ability to bring out the best in people and to help them open up, often without them realizing it.  He said and did things most people could never get away with–kissing the hands of ladies he would encounter or just spontaneously complimenting someone.
After moving my parents from Michigan to San Diego, I returned to Michigan to work on the old house.  Every day, a neighbor, former customer or some poor soul living in the alley would stop to tell me how much they miss him.  His kindness and good spirit seemed to have affected the entire neighborhood.

My thoughts are with my father today, as they are every day. ~gv