Paul George Manolis Lifelong Historian of the Greek Orthodox Church Passes Away

Paul G. Manolis, holding a copy of his book. Photo: Courtesy of the family

PIEDMONT, CA – Paul George Manolis, much loved husband, father and grandfather, passed away peacefully on February 8, 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. Manolis 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 U.S. Army toward the end of World War II. 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, Manolis 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.

Photo: Courtesy of the family

Manolis left academia to become the executive aide to U.S. 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. Manolis completed his career in the University of California Berkeley Development Office.

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 Educational Foundation. A few of Manolis’ 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.

Manolis 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.

Paul Manolis and Archbishop Michael of America. Photo: Courtesy of the family

During his service to the Archdiocese, he revamped the Orthodox Observer and served as Founder and President of its publishing board. While in Washington, he made arrangements for Archbishop Michael to speak at Eisenhower’s inauguration, worked to have Orthodox listed on “dog tags” and even had St. Connie’s choir sing at an inauguration banquet.

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 Manolis and his wife Elene donated in memory of their son Dimitri. Manolis remained active and served as an adjunct professor until his early 80s.

Manolis 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. He was further decorated as a Knight Crusader of the Holy Sepulchre, Patriarch of Jerusalem, with the Grand Cross of Mount Athos, and the Medal of St. Paul from the Archdiocese of America.

Even though Manolis 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 Manolis and Archbishop Iakovos in 1971. Photo: Courtesy of the family

Manolis 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.

Funeral services will be held on Thursday, February 13 at 10:30 AM at the Ascension Cathedral, Oakland. Please join the family immediately after for the Makaria. The Trisagion will be held the night prior at 7 PM at the Cathedral.

Paul’s life was an incredible experience. We will miss him deeply. Memory Eternal!

Photo: Courtesy of the family
Paul G. Manolis. Photo: Courtesy of the family


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