BOSTON, MA – Approximately 200 Greeks and Philhellenes from Boston’s academic and business communities attended a dinner at Boston University (BU) on November 8 in honor of renowned goldsmith Ilias Lalaounis.
The event was organized by the BU Philhellenes (BUPh), under the direction of Profs. Kelly Polychroniou and Jay Samons The proceeds will go to scholarships for students visiting Greece to learn the Greek language, history, and culture.
Consul General of Greece in Boston Stratos Efthimiou described the late honoree as “a
great Greek who, through his work and his contribution, spread Greek culture to the ends of the world.”
The principal speaker was the honoree’s daughter Ioanna, Director of the Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum (ILJM) who, with accompanying videos, presented her father’s career, inspiration, creations, and ILJM’s mission.
She described that the ILJM is the only modern jewelry museum in Greece, founded in 1993 in Athens and opened to the public in December, 1994 as a cultural nonprofit.
A BU graduate herself, Lalaounis told The National Herald that her father was “a very affectionate father and a constant mentor. He was very close to us and brought us close to his work in a very pleasant way. On holidays and vacations we were next to him, able to see him working, and that is something that my sisters and I treasure. We went to the factory and he would ask what we wanted to eat. And now, what will we paint?
“He had a way of bringing us close to the work, making us love it through itsbeauty and intimacy; and because we felt we were doing well, we loved our work.”
She explained that “heritage is a very difficult thing, and it was certainly a very great burden for me that I took on that weight when I was too young, 25 years old. I didn’t know exactly what I had undertaken.I did not know then the true stature of this man and what he had left behind. I was only 25 and forced to confront the facts.” At the time, Lalaounis had just completed a master’s degree at BU and had interned at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. About to begin a PhD, her father called her and asked her to go to Athens to take over the new museum he created.
Ioanna Lalaounis, Director of the Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum in Athens, speaks at a dinner at Boston University, organized by the Boston University Philhellenes. (Photo by TNH/Theodore Kalmoukos)
But what advice did he give her? “He did not give us advice, nor did he criticize us,” she explained. “He was always acting as an example. We never heard him raise his voice inside the house or speak harshly.”
She added that her father “was a good Christian; he went to church with uswithout forcing us to go. Outside the garden of our house,he had built a chapel and told us to pray there. He established us in the Christian Faith through love.”
She said Archbishop Iakovos was a spiritual father to the Lalaounises and they saw him often. She recalled that at age 12 she was ill and had to come to the United States for a second medical opinion. “Although I really could not move because I was feverish, my father said I should certainly go to the church to be blessedby the archbishop, because, he said, ‘I believe in his power.’When the Liturgy was over, we went to the back room, I knelt and heread a prayer, and I really think afterward I was carrying the Divine Spirit with me. In six months I was totally cured. The doctors and medications had not been able to cure me, and the illness had required a lot of patience. Also, I didn’t know if I would be left with any scars for the rest of my life. Thankfully I wasn’t. At that moment, I really believed, and I think that everything in our lives is really a matter of faith. I believe very much in the energy of God.”