Constantine Michalopulos
Constantine Michalopulos

Obituary of Constantine George Michalopulos

Constantine "Deno" George Michalopulos was born February 26, 1934 in the village of Pyrgos Trifilias, in the region of Messinia in the Greek Peloponnesos. As the first son, he was named for his paternal grandfather. His parents were Dr. George Michalopulos and Evyenia Papageorgiou. He had three sisters Eirini Avrilioni, Aikaterini Michalopoulou, Demetra Morres and a brother Peter Michalopulos. After the onset of World War II, Greece was brought to her knees in ruin and his family lost their fortune. Wartime forfeitures shaped Deno’s generation, yet he proudly recalled the astounding Greek self-sufficiency amidst those dire conditions. Deno himself had to flee to the countryside with his family, hiding out in the their farmhouse, and used makeshift slingshots to bring down whatever bird that could round out their now-simple meals. As the local physician, his father, Dr. Michalopulos continued his medical work at times in hiding, emerging from the shadows to birth a child, dress a soldier's wound and treat the ill. 
At the age of 16 Deno left home and moved to Athens to begin training in a technical school. He juggled night school while working on the Greek Navy’s Hephaestus ship. During these three years he gained invaluable hands-on experience while servicing other ships. The ships’ search and retrieval of WWII airplanes, many still sunk in the sea, meant plenty of work. 

In 1953, at the age of 19 he joined the Greek Merchant Marines as an assistant electrician — while it was daunting to leave his homeland, he knew it was a good opportunity to help support his family back in war-ravaged Greece. So began his globetrotting to Egypt, Turkey, Israel, Lebanon, Tunisia, England, Venezuela, Curacao, Aruba, Colombia, Morocco, Brazil, Jamaica and culminating in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. His adventures all over the world groomed him for survival even as he yearned for his family back home. No tempest however prepared him for his 1957 Jamaican port-of-call, where he received news of his father’s death. Deno had no warning of his father’s grave illness and was unable to see him before he died. The years of separation only deepened a grief that followed Deno the rest of his life. In 1958 Deno “jumped ship” in Baton Rouge and took a Greyhound bus to Tulsa. Over the years he had been corresponding with an uncle – Father Antonios Kalogeropoulos who then was the priest at Holy Trinity. These penpals were destined to meet up.

Papa Antoni’s, youngest daughter Becky (now Becky Economou) had a friend named Katherine Hlepos. Papa Antoni introduced him to Katherine “…and the rest was history." 
Deno and Katherine were married in April 1958 at Holy Trinity in Tulsa by their beloved Papa Antoni. Katherine always called Deno “Kosta..” His first job was at the Tulsa Hotel overseeing the boilers. On a surprise visit, immigration officers came to the house to deport him. Katherine immediately called “Papa Antoni” and said “Kosta is in trouble.” The kind priest went to Deno’s employer, intervened, and was able to assuage the crisis. The officers fingerprinted him and told him he had 20 days to leave the US. Deno went to the immigration office in Dallas and from there took a bus ride to Toronto, Canada to do the paperwork and legally re-enter the US through the Detroit office. US citizenship followed in due course.

In 1959 Deno and Katherine welcomed son George Constantine Michalopulos; in 1962 their daughter Irene (Renee); and in 1968 another daughter, Evyenia (Gina). Deno was one of the first employees of St. Francis Hospital which opened in 1960. After several happy years of working there he took on employment at American Airlines, which afforded years of world travel for his family during the “glamorous” age of air travel: suits, ties, and dresses required! He maintained close and loving ties with colleagues from both workplaces. After the death of his still-young wife Katherine, Deno married Artemis Kahiaoglou, originally from Istanbul who had settled in Athens. After their marriage in Greece Deno brought her to Tulsa where, since 1986, she rose to the challenge of a new country, new language, new family, new church — a whole new way of life. Their children grew up and had their own offspring and he and Artemis lovingly grandparented their five boys: Constantine (Denny), Michael, Luka, Marko and Yianni. From the beginning of his time in Tulsa, Deno became closely and passionately involved in Holy Trinity’s parish life. Jim Kademis (Katherine’s uncle) and Tom Kontogianes took him under their respective wings in the church kitchen, a launchpad for Deno’s flair in the kitchen. He took well to the kitchen and mastered the craft quickly, recreating the savory dishes of his homeland with the ingredients of his adopted one. He delighted generations of parishioners and festival customers with his culinary skills. He was instrumental in starting the Greek festival, the building of the Memorial Auditorium (“the Hall”) and later the new church. He was a decades-long member of the parish council and served as president. Deno maintained strong ties to the AHEPA family, both locally and in the district. He never hesitated to use a hammer, shovel, spatula, butcher knife, lawnmower or paint brush when it came to his church. Next to his family, it was the most essential part of his life. His commitment can scarcely be overstated, and here he garnered respect throughout his church that eventually spilled over into his workstead and the Tulsa community. Deno led by example without pontificating. He welcomed newcomers, whether to his church, his neighborhood and above all in his home, and doused them with his good humor, philoxenia, and deft use of his homemade spices on the grill. He was greatly admired for his calm, cool demeanor and lack of drama—even as his rapid-fire wit yielded exquisite zingers. In his later years, his fatherly demeanor still has an impact on all who knew him. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then many have done just that by sharing how much they want to be just like him, how they remain touched by his kindness, generosity, and egalitarian spirit, and even base their personal success on his influence. 
 A gentle man and a gentleman, Deno nevertheless quietly forged his own way of thinking, and often astonished his family with his ability to think outside the proverbial box. He saw things uniquely and doubtless found his garden the wellspring of his thoughts. He nurtured vegetables, fragrant flowers, lemons, figs, and herbs. His garden was his own patch of Greece in Tulsa and his creative cookery gave him local celebrity status. Exceedingly proud to be an American, he always harbored a deep nostalgia and longing for his homeland and enjoyed many trips to his native soil. Deno was a loyal friend to many and had a supreme gift for spreading happiness, peace, wisdom, and humor to all fortunate to know him. He was predeceased by his parents, his sister Aikaterini and his first wife Katherine. He is survived by his wife Artemis; his sisters Eirini Avrilioni of Athens Greece, Demetra "Mitsa" Morres of Pensacola/St. Louis, his brother Peter G. Michalopulos and treasured sister-in-law Athena Michalopulos. He is also survived by children George (Gail Sheppard) Michalopulos, Irene Renee Michalopulos, Gina (Patrick) Kingsley; daughter-in-law Margaret Michalopulos and grandchildren Constantine "Denny" Michalopulos II, Dr. Michael (Dr. Madeline) Michalopulos, Luka Kingsley, Marko Kingsley and Yianni Kingsley. He leaves behind many much-beloved cousins, nieces and nephews and his adored companion Bouboulina. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that donations be made to Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church Building Fund 1222 S. Guthrie, Tulsa, OK 74119
Sunday
8
August

Trisagion Service

7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Sunday, August 8, 2021
Ninde Brookside Chapel
3841 S. Peoria
Tulsa, Oklahoma, United States
918-742-5556
Monday
9
August

Funeral Liturgy

10:30 am - 11:30 am
Monday, August 9, 2021
Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church
1222 S. Guthrie
Tulsa, Oklahoma, United States
Monday
9
August

Final Resting Place

12:00 pm - 12:30 pm
Monday, August 9, 2021
Rose Hill Memorial Park
4161 E. Admiral Place
Tulsa, Oklahoma, United States
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