NEW YORK – There are a few rare human beings who are not only gifted and blessed, but who at the same time are generous and eager to share their gifts with their family, their friends, their community, and their country.
Ambassador Michael Sotirhos was, par excellence, such a man.
Fortunate have been, indeed, those who were graced by his friendship and were able to admire and enjoy his radiant personality.
I first met and was able to get to know better Michael Sotirhos, then the Ambassador of the United States to Greece, during the years when I was serving as the Director of the Diplomatic Office of Prime Minister Konstantinos Mitsotakis. I attended many of his official as well as intimate meetings with the Prime Minister. I was a guest at a great number of social events he hosted together with his wonderful wife Estelle. I experienced his sparkling intelligence and great practical and tactical approach as I observed him contributing to and considerably shaping the debates and negotiations on so many critically important issues pertaining to Greek-American relations and peace and security in the region. I admired his diplomatic dexterity and warm human approach as he orchestrated the official visit of G.H.W. Bush, the President of the United States – his personal friend – to Greece.
Michael Sotirhos was the first Greek-American Ambassador of the U.S to Greece. And it gives the measure of his extraordinary personality to emphasize that he greatly served American interests while at the same time being faithful to his Hellenic roots – because he fervently believed in the great heritage and common principles and ideals that unite Greece and America.
Furthermore, apart from his formal Ambassadorial duties, Michael and Estelle, with their warm personalities, became and remained one of the most beloved and admired couples of Athenian life.
Since those years, when Ambassador Sotirhos generously extended to me his friendship, he remained my mentor and always offered me his valuable and affectionate guidance.
Later on and for many years, Ambassador Sotirhos continued furthering promoting our Hellenic Heritage as a senior member of the leadership of the Onassis Foundation.
Sitting next to him in countless Foundation Board meetings and benefiting from his guidance and advice in developing the activities of the Onassis Affiliate Foundation (USA) in New York, I know how much, together with the President and the other members of the Board of the Foundation, he contributed in energetically promoting the values of the Hellenic civilization in North and South America.
Ambassador Sotirhos lived a distinguished and productive life greatly beneficial to his family, his friends, the Greek-American Community, and the United States. He deservedly enjoyed high recognition and great honors and was appreciated and admired by countless people in every walk of life.
He was indeed a man for all seasons.
As a country, as a community, and personally, we are so much poorer without him and we will miss him very much.
Our sorrow, however, is measured, exceeded by our gratitude for the blessings that he brought to our lives with his radiant, inspiring, wonderful personality.