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Our Megalos Family

…we first met Sam on a dessert line at a potluck supper at St. Sophia’s church in Albany, 50+ years ago.  When I turned to him and asked if he would consider going “halfies” with me on a particular dessert, he agreed; and all four of us shared that sweet.

We shared shared subsequent desserts, snacks, meals, dinners, visits, even vacations.  We became friends.

We learned early on that if Arthur or I so much as even mentioned that we liked a particular Vutetakis book, record or photograph, soon after a copy, a duplicate or a reproduction of the mentioned item would arrive at our door.

We learned to curb our enthusiasm, lest we end up replication the entire Vutetakis household.

Sam was:
-A good man – kind, gentle and modest
-A fine friend – loyal, loving, forgiving and generous – to a fault
-An excellent Scrabble player – worthy as either partner or opponent
-& a superb contributor to serious discussion – knowledgeable, thoughtful, fair, sage

Discussions with Sam yielded insights that would have eluded us otherwise.

We last visited Sam about 2 1/2 years ago.  He honored us by framing a card in which I had quoted Emily Dickinson of friends.  “My friends are my estate.  Forgive me, then, the avarice to hoard them.”

Lastly, Sam was a caring man.  He knew almost instinctively “the need to show how much we care for each other, and in the process, care for ourselves.”

For 50+ years, Sam has enriched our Arthur’s and my life, and the lives of our children.  We all feel his loss.

With love and sympathy,
Mal and Arthur

The connection between the two families was transforming.  For an impressionable young lad, I was struck by the “strength” of both feelings and mindset which became my own benchmark for inspired living.  To me, the Megalos family embodied the essence of the Greek psyche:  intellectual, expressive, at once fiery and warm; and underlining it all was the kindest of hearts.  When Arthur, Mal, Sam and Marj would get together, it made everyone want to join the “party.”  The four of them displayed mental agility and intuitive perceptions which most of us can only dream about.  The banters were not lofty or exclusive; they were knowledgeable, easy to comprehend and inspired. Through osmosis they created a “thirst” for knowledge and, more importantly, sent me on a lifelong  quest for human understanding.

At the late age of seven, Arthur and Mal honored my family by becoming my godparents.  My brother Jim (his godparents were Irene and Harry Laggeris) and I were baptized together using the most ancient method in an Adirondack lake near Albany, New York.  Beyond the beautiful setting and cultural significance of the ceremony, we were old enough to understand the deeper spiritual significance of the bond created.  “Nonno and Nonna” Megalos and their children have been family since then and remained the best of friends with my parents. It was not until many years later that I realized how unique the relationship was.  As a young man I naively thought every family was as intellectually stimulating, as much fun and so thoughtful of others. Years later, after living in numerous cities and meeting thousands of people, I began to realize how rare this was.

50 years is most of my life and we grew up with the Megalos children as siblings: Bill, Peter (who sadly and tragically passed away as a young adult), Christopher, Mark and Jill. I have fond memories of summers with both families living on an island in the middle of Lake George, catching snakes in the Catskills and trips to New York City.  Later, we joined together for annual vacations at the Jersey shore. They were good times filled with great food, active days, lively banters and deep thinking.  My father was like the glue in the relationships.  He would set up humor for another person’s punchline, encourage each of us to express ourselves and never became bored of a discussion, whether adult or child.  Each of us felt we had his total support and attention and factually we did!  Sam was always there for his friends, loved ones and strangers who needed a kind word. He faced life as life faced him. Whether it was Art and Mal, or any one of their children, my father spoke about our Megalos family with great love and reverence. It would remind me of our trips to Greece when I would see his enthusiasm swell and the fire of life kindled within. -gv

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