ATHENS – Writer and journalist Yiannis Mihalakis, who for decades was a valuable contributor to the National Herald, has passed away at the age of 85.
According to his wishes, his body will be cremated next Tuesday in the presence of a close circle of relatives.
Consultant to the Publishers of the National Herald, Antonis Diamataris, the publishers Eraklis and Vanessa Diamataris, and his colleagues at the newspaper expressed their deepest condolences to his wife Eleni and his daughters, Yianna and Kalliopi.
Yiannis Michalakis was born in 1937 in the village of Kourounia in Northwestern Chios. After graduating from the Boys’ Gymnasium of Chios, he traveled to Athens seeking his fortune. He worked as a carpenter factory worker, printer, and journalist. His first text was published in the student magazine ‘Sphinx’ of the Boys’ Gymnasium of Chios. For many years he was a contributor to the local newspaper ‘Hiakon Vima’, published in Athens by Nikos Hallous, and for a short time to ‘Nautiliaki-Nautergatiki’. In November 1969, he began to publish the newspaper ‘Hiakoi Antilaloi’, which printed 65 issues, until September 1973. In 1974, he immigrated to America, where he worked for the National Herald-Ethnikos Kirikas.
In July, 1985 he returned to Greece, where he continued to work in the offices of the National Herald in Athens until December 17, 2009, when he retired.
In addition to his journalistic work, he also wrote several books, which can be found at biblionet.gr, searching under ‘Γιάννης Μιχαλάκης’.
Lover of Chios and the Diaspora
Yiannis nursed a profound love of Chios and Hellenism Abroad. He never rested and was always writing.
When, in December, 2020, Yiannis Michalakis spoke with the National Herald, his narration was so descriptive that it resembles a cinematic image:
“Next to the house where I grew up, in my village called Kourounia, there was the house of my grandfather Dimitris, who had died. My father used it as a warehouse, so in this house, there was a storeroom – not like the ones in modern houses above the toilet, but a whole room, filled with a lot of miscellaneous things.
“There were newspapers from Smyrna, Chios, and Athens. Many issues of Souri’s ‘Diaplasis ton Paedon’ and ‘Romi’, even the Illustrated Atlantis from New York. There were still many boxes full of letters and deeds.
“As a small child, I spent many hours in that loft, reading the old newspapers and especially ‘Diaplasi’ and ‘Romeo’. From these readings I picked up the literature bug, staying with me as high school student in the reading room of the ‘Korais’ library in Chios.
“I was away from Chios for many years, but I never forgot that loft. I had taken some interesting documents with me, but the bulk remained in the village.
“My grandfather’s house was inherited by my brother Dimitris and through him my nephew Giorgos, who transported all that material to Athens. After my retirement, I wrote fifteen books, half about my village and the other half about Hellenism in America.
“When I finished, my nephew brought me the loft material to study. I worked on it for around two years. The material is massive. My grandfather was many things. In addition to being a farmer, which was his main occupation, he was also a notary, community leader, superintendent of education, merchant, medical practitioner, and leader of the political party of Venizelos. So I divided it into three sections: documents that concerned public affairs, letters, and notarial documents.
“A fellow villager of mine who knew what I was doing took the initiative and raised money needed to print the book, with pre-sales to our fellow villagers. As a ‘fee’ I asked for and received ten copies of each book.”
This was our Yiannis – an old-fashioned journalist, as we say, for those who love this profession, practicing it as a calling. With his deep literary education and the excellent editing of texts that he always did by hand, he emerged as a chronicler par excellence of Chios and the Diaspora, through his books and the National Herald.
We will miss him. Have a nice journey, dear friend.