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Culture

Mark Petrakis Emotionally Eulogizes His Father Harry Mark Petrakis

February 6, 2021

Many knew the legendary Greek-American Harry Mark Petrakis and his countless exemplary literary works. But few knew him as well as his son. Eulogizing his father, Mark Petrakis tracks his father’s life story from a more personal vantage point, one that resonates deeply with many Greeks of the diaspora. Below please find Mark's touching message and family heirloom photos he shared with The National Herald. May his memory be eternal. He now rests with the love of his life, Diana, his wife of 73 years, who passed away on Christmas day in 2018.

"My father, Harry Mark Petrakis, passed away last night, Tuesday, February 2nd at the age of 97 at his home in Dune Acres, Indiana. Such a long life has many beginnings.

He came very close to dying when he was 12 years old having contracted children’s tuberculosis. During his two-year period of convalescence at home, he became a voracious reader and inveterate fantasist and then ultimately, after many long years filled with difficult and highly dramatic detours, a celebrated writer, author of 24 books, a majority of which were works of fiction. 

He, along with my mother Diana, who passed on Christmas Day of 2018, were kind and generous parents. As far as I was concerned, there was little to fault them, but that love wouldn’t quickly correct it. 

There was also little judgment and little fear in their parenting and I think that same approach was passed down to myself and my two wonderful brothers… just as it radiated outward to encircle our large Chicago Greek family that gave us in return much love and no shortage of amusements as we were growing up.

Having read and so closely studied the lives and words of wise men, it was rather inevitable that he would become one eventually, which he did, although he never stopped fretting about mistakes he had made and questioning whether he had done enough or had acted as judiciously as he might have. 

Prior to yesterday, he had rather miraculously survived 50 days w/o food… but it was also a period of quietude for him with few disruptions, as he was closely watched over by my brother Dean, niece Adriana and his devoted caregiver, Arnel. 

This slow and peaceful time allowed him the room to grow more attentive to his growing companion, Death as the two of them wandered through the vaulted halls of his earthly memories, also bursting with countless fictional characters of his own creation.

He was not in pain as he approached the end; neither was he on medications… except for 6 hours of morphine yesterday. His mind remained lucid as well, right up until a day ago when he surrendered the ability to speak.

He passed away imperceptibly… “like the flutter of a sparrow’s wing…” seemingly without struggle… with my Chicago brother, John and his wife, Linnie, by his bedside. 

I believe he passed from one state of consciousness into another without too much fear for what awaited him there. 

May we all be so fortunate and free.

Peace and boundless love to his beautiful spirit and to his gentle and artful soul."

June 5,1923 – February 2, 2021

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