Obituary | Paul George Manolis (1928 – 2020)

Family members of Paul G. Manolis shared an undated photo Monday, Feb. 10, 2020. (Courtesy Manolis Family)

Paul George Manolis, much loved husband, father and grandfather, passed away peacefully on February 8, 2020 at age 92 in his Piedmont, CA home after a full and creative life.

He was born on February 4, 1928 to Vasileki (Kalantsopoulos) and George Manolis, immigrants from Tripolis and Papari, Arcadia, Greece. Paul was raised in the tight-knit Greek community of Sacramento with his sister Helen, and brothers Gus and John.

After graduating from CK McClatchy High School, Paul enlisted in the US Army toward the end of WWII. Following basic training in Indiana and Texas, he was transferred to the Department of Defense’s Language Institute in Monterey, CA, where he taught courses in Greek to officers in preparation for post-war rebuilding efforts.

After his Army service, Paul attended UC Berkeley (proud member of the SAE fraternity) and excelled in classical history, graduating in 1952. Thereafter, he earned his graduate degree in history as a Cutting Fellow at Harvard University. He was then appointed as a Fellow at Harvard’s Dumbarton Oaks Institute in Washington, DC.

Paul left academia to become the executive aide to US Senate Majority Leader William F. Knowland. Following the Senator’s last term in DC, Paul returned to California where he was the Executive Editor of the Oakland Tribune, until the paper was sold in 1978. Paul completed his career in the UC Berkeley Development Office.

Paul served on dozens of boards and committees of civic, business, religious and fraternal organizations. At UC Berkeley, he was the longtime chapter advisor of the SAE fraternity and published its history in 2013. He participated in capital campaigns for the university, was a regional alumni president, faithfully followed Cal sports, and loved attending the Lair of the Bear.

Representing the Piedmont Education Foundation with a wave and a smile, Paul Manolis rides shotgun in Piedmont’s 4th of July Parade (circa 2012)

A 55 year resident of Piedmont, he was active in little league, the swim team, Boy Scouts, the historical society and most recently served on the board of the Piedmont Education Foundation. A few of Paul’s favorite civic experiences included serving as Vice Chairman of the California Arts Commission, as a Pulitzer Prize juror, and as a board member of Children’s Hospital and the Oakland Museum.

Paul was very focused on Greek Orthodoxy and the Greek diaspora worldwide, a passion which began in childhood. He led countless initiatives in active leadership positions over 70+ years, was an advisor to numerous archbishops, and served on the executive committee of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. He was the Orthodox representative to the World Council of Churches. As a researcher, writer and speaker on the history of the church, he traveled all over the world, most frequently to Greece, for such purposes. In 2003, he published a three-volume history of the Greek Orthodox Church in America.

At the Ascension Cathedral, with the help of Father Tom Paris, he created Greek Week and started the trend of mega festivals. He was a member of the Pan Arcadian Federation and loved his time cooking at Camp Ravencliff.

In 1987 he founded the Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute in Berkeley. This fulfilled a lifelong dream to bring the presence of Orthodoxy to a major university campus. The Institute flourished with a library, endowed professorship, lecture series, housing, student fellowship programs and a chapel that Paul and Elene donated in memory of their son Dimitri. Paul remained active and served as an adjunct professor until his early 80s.

Paul was honored numerous times by local and international church organizations, the Greek government and the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. He was awarded the church’s highest honor as a Great Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

Even though Paul was involved in so many outside organizations, family was always the priority. In later years he loved carpooling and attending his grandchildren’s sporting events. He was constantly in the kitchen or sitting in his den by the fire, where he held court, read, watched the Oakland A’s, needlepointed, hosted guests and smoked a few Marlboro Reds…

Paul is survived by his wife of 56 years, Elene Zahas Manolis, his children Alexandra, George and Damian, and daughters-in-law Monica and Rocio. He was the amazing and involved Papou to his grandchildren George, Luna, Dimitri, Julia, Paul, Nico, James and Evan. He was pre-deceased by his son Dimitri, who died in 1985.

Paul’s last few years were enriched by Narby Castillo and Luz Sacramento, who lovingly cared for him and took him on regular adventures to places like Casper’s and Club 55.

Donations to the Ascension Cathedral (Camp Ravencliff) or Piedmont Education Foundation are preferred. For further information please call Harry Greer, Funeral Director (FDR-745).


Reprinted with permission of the Manolis family

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