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Theodore “Ted” Pappas

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Theodore “Ted” Pappas was born in New York City September 11, 1925 to proud parents Emmanuel (Mike) and Fotini (Fanny) Pappachristodoulos. Both of his parents were from the Greek villages of Goni and Rapsani at the foot and top of the Olympic Mountain respectively. His father immigrated to the United States in 1914 and did the usual immigrant things: dishwasher, cook and eventually owned a small coffee shop in Brooklyn, New York. While attending school Ted was active at St. George Greek Orthodox Church located on 103rd Street in Manhattan. Ted laughingly shared that he went to Greek School 3 times a week, “whether he wanted to or not,” The Church facility was also used by the George Dilboy American Legion Post named after World War I Medal of Honor Winner. They organized a Drum and Bugle Marching Band and he joined the group as a drummer. The Band marched in several of the March 25th Independence Day parades that were held annually on 5th Avenue.

He graduated from Metropolitan Vocational High School planning to be a machinist. A wise counselor recommended that Ted should also take university preparatory classes and after balking he followed his counselor’s advice. Upon graduation World War II changed Ted’s plans.

 

Servicemen from St. Spyridon Church in Manhattan, Ted is in middle front.

In June 1943 as an 18 year old Ted decided rather than be drafted he volunteered for the Navy. He would be able to see the world and if he had to die, by being on the ocean “he would die clean” rather than in the muck and mud of a foot soldier. Ted did his boot camp training at the Sampson, NY training facility. After taking an aptitude test he was sent to radio school in Pennsylvania to become a radio man. Upon completion of his radio school training Ted was assigned to the destroyer USS BLUE in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

Within a week the ship was ordered to proceed to Norfolk, VA and then through the Panama Canal to San Diego and on to Hawaii. Later the ship was ordered to join an air craft carrier group as an escort for the carriers whose planes principle assignment was to attack and regularly bomb the Japanese mainland. When the Japanese surrendered in August, 1945, Ted’s ship, the USS Blue was present at the September 2nd surrender ceremony on the USS Missouri.

After Ted’s discharge in October 1946 he returned to New York to decide what to do with his life. With training as a typist and Morse code typing he applied at the IRS as a clerk-typist. Shortly he found by becoming an Internal Revenue Agent he would earn twice the salary. Ted took night school accounting courses at Pace Institute Business School (now Pace University) in order to take the Revenue Agent’s examination.

During this time at St. Spyridon Greek Orthodox Church where his family now went, Fr. Theophilos P. Theophilos formed a youth group called Greek American Youth Society (GAYS). At this organization Ted met an attractive young woman, Evangeline (Van) Marentis who was rather standoffish and dismissed his advances. However Van needed an escort to an event she was to attend and allowed Ted to take her. Before long Ted was smitten and proposed. Van told him he was not a college graduate so she would never marry him! Fortunately Ted had taken his counselor’s advice and taken a preparatory college course. He could now take the Regent’s exam in order to qualify in New York state university system. Using his GI Bill Ted went to New York University (NYU) night school in 1948 continuing to work for the IRS during the day.

 
Wedding of Ted and Van Pappas
June 5, 1949

Ted and Van were married June 5, 1949. Ted continued his studies at NYU graduating in 1952. Van worked at CBS as a casting director where she met many celebrities. No sooner had Ted completed his studies he decided to go to law school at NYU, working during the day, going to night school and studying on the weekends. Their plans changed slightly Ted said “when we found that Van was pregnant and she had to quit work! This was quite a burden that they both accepted so Ted could continue his studies”. Their daughter Andrea was born in 1953 and daughter Penelope in 1955. In 1956 Ted completed his law studies, took the bar exam and passed with flying colors.
 

 
Ted and Van Pappas on their honeymoon

Ted had briefly visited Hollywood when he was in the Navy and he always remembered the beautiful palm trees and the sunny weather. When an opportunity to move to Los Angeles to join the Internal Revenue office was given Ted and Van did not hesitate to move with their family. They settled in Northridge, eventually bought a home with a GI Loan, where a son Michael was born. One day he was offered a major promotion with the IRS in Los Angeles and on the same day Rexall Drug Chemical Company offered him a position as assistant tax attorney. The decision was made to stay in California and accept the Rexall offer where in the following years he became an international tax attorney traveling to Japan and many European countries.

 
The Ted Pappas Family: First row: Michael and Ted; back row: Van, Penelope and Andrea

Both Ted and Van wanted to have their roots in the Greek Orthodox Church and soon became involved in the fledgling Valley church St. Nicholas. (Ted shares much of this history in the video that accompanies this article.)

Soon Ted was on the Parish Council and then became president. Fr. Spencer T. Kezios had extensive plans for building a new Church. A Building Committee approved by the General Assembly which consisted of Father K, Ted as President of the Board, and included Peter Mamakos, Chris Skoby and, Jim Lagos who were given the responsibility for developing the plans and financing for the building of St. Nicholas Church in Northridge. Of course there were many others who contributed in many ways but the direct responsibility was that of the Building Committee. Ted acknowledges that their help and assistance was an integral element for assuring the successful Church building completion of in 1967, with the support of the General Contractor, Alpha Omega, and owner, Jim Hagelis and his partner.

 
Ted Pappas, Bishop Demetrios, Fr. Spencer Kezios, and Nick Francis. St. Nicholas groundbreaking
  St. Nicholas as it is today

The Greek Heritage Society’s wishes to thank Ted Pappas for his help in compiling information for this article and for family photos. We thank Maria Janios of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church for providing archival photos. GHS interviewed Ted Pappas in May 2006. Harry Ratner, Gus T. Dalis, and Zoye Marino Fidler of GHS worked on editing the interview and article.

View the interview

 

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Contact Information
For further information or questions, please contact us.

Shelly Papadopoulos
(424) 261-GRGR (261-4747)
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Zoye Marino Fidler
(818) 386-1942
ghs@mediaart.com

 

 


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