Chris Afendoulis, a Greek-American and lifelong resident of the Grand Rapids,
MI Metropolitan area was elected to the Michigan State House of Representatives last November and was sworn in on New Year’s Day.
A Republican who campaigned on “common sense conservative principles,” Afendoulis won the general election handily, with close to 70% of the vote.
A CPA, Afendoulis graduated with a business degree from the University of Michigan in 1984, worked as an auditor with Coopers and Lybrand (now Price Waterhouse Coopers) for four years, and eventually accepted a position with a Grand Rapids-based auto parts supplier for 24 years; the last 13 as its Chief Financial Officer.
His local government experience includes 10 years’ service as a Township Trustee and Treasurer. His family also owns a dry cleaning and tuxedo business, which has been in operation since 1947.
Public service is an Afendoulis family tradition. His late father, Sam, served four terms on the Kent County Board of Commissioners, served on the National Council of the Greek Orthodox Youth of America (GOYA), and was an Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarch having received the honor from Patriarch Bartholomew himself in March, 2002, a month before his passing. Both of his parents have been honored for many years of dedicated community service.
His own parents met at a GOYA conference, and Afendoulis and his wife,
the former Phyllis Makredes of St. Paul, MN met at the 1999 YAL Convention in Chicago. Her parents, Mary Ballas Makredes and the late Hrone Makredes, were among the founders of the Orthodox Church of Saint Luke in Hong Kong. In 1996, Patriarch Bartholomew honored Mrs. Makredes for the work in establishing the Hong Kong Community. Phyllis’ paternal roots are in Saranda Ecclisies in Eastern Thrace (now part of Turkey), while her mother’s family hails from Apedia, Laconia (Sparta) and the Aegean Island of Koutali. Her uncle, the late Father Michael Makredes, served parishes throughout America, with his longest tenure in Fresno, CA.
Afendoulis’ family has lived in Grand Rapids since 1910 when his grandfather, Efstatheios and a group of cousins migrated there from Ortou (ancient Kotyora) on the coast of the Pontos (Black Sea) area of Turkey. His grandmother Vassiliki Zazopoulos arrived along with other female relatives from the Pontos in 1923 as part of the forced expulsion of virtually all Greeks from Turkey (Asia Minor), where they had lived for over
2.000 years. His maternal grandparents, Gus Dallas (DeJiyianis) and Georgia Andrews (Andrianopoulos) of Detroit emigrated in the early Twentieth Century from the Arcadian villages of Kandila and Pekemi, near Tripoli.
Afendoulis expressed deep appreciation to family and members of the Greek and Orthodox communities of Grand Rapids for their strong support in the election. He observed that while campaigning, he met voters who had either attended school, worked with, or had been taught by his relatives. The family effort was also bi-partisan as Aunt, Irene Marudas, (his father’s cousin) and her husband, Peter Marudas, longtime Chief of Staff to Democratic Senator Paul Sarbanes of Maryland, were enthusiastic and early backers.
Afendoulis joins other Greek-Americans who have served over the years in the Michigan Legislature, including: Robert Constan, Democrat, Dearborn Heights; Andrew Kandrevas, Democrat, Southgate; John Papageorge, Republican, Troy; Jim Plakas, Democrat, Garden City; John Stamas, Republican, Saginaw and the late Phillip Williams, a Detroit Republican in the 1940s believed to be the first Greek American elected to the Michigan Legislature.