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Book documents history of Phoenix’s Greek community
By Srianthi Perera   - 10/10/2008

Arizona Republic

More Info on This Book: Greeks in Phoenix

It was a group of hardy men and women who pioneered the Greek community in Phoenix at the turn of the 20th century.

From the Sanichas brothers, Charles and Chris, the first Greeks to arrive, in 1908, to the creation of the white-domed Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral in 1983, their story hadn't been recorded until now.

Arcadia Publishing recently released Greeks in Phoenix as part of its Images of America series. The book contains about 200 black-and-white historical photographs and briefly traces the community's history. It was written by the 10-member Holy Trinity Greek Historical Committee.

"The book came out of what we'd collected for a historical room in the church," committee member Alex Anagnopoulos said. Part of the book's proceeds will go toward establishing the museum.

Anagnopoulos and several others already had tapped friends, relatives and community members for old photographs, which they then researched. One photo is of Anagnopoulos' parents: Her father came to the United States in 1910 and served in World War I. He later married and settled in Phoenix and became a supporter of the church.

Freelancer Andy Limber wrote much of the story. He also appears in one of the photos as an altar boy. He was 8 years old when he came to Phoenix from Indiana.

"We got an appreciation for the amount of hard work and effort it took in that time period for people coming from Greece to establish in this part of the world," Limber said. "Today's Phoenix is drastically different from the one they came to."

Like many emigrants from Europe, Greeks came without money or education. What they brought with them - a good work ethic, a love of family and their Orthodox faith - stood them in good stead.

"Education was a big factor - they had to learn everything all over - and learn a new language. But they kept much of the old ways," said Limber, adding that "they assimilated into American culture and American commerce."

The Sanichas brothers opened confectionery stores in Phoenix. The five Georgouses brothers, who arrived in 1909, opened restaurants, shoe-shining, hat-cleaning and real-estate businesses. Constantina Gouzounis came to the country with her aunt, Aspacia Georgouses, married Pete Tamara and established the Tamaras Farm. Milton and Chrysanthe Stamatis came to Phoenix in 1917 with their four children; Stamatis was a founder of the Holy Trinity community and was its first president in 1923.

With such chapters as the "Birth of the Greek Community," "Business," "Organizations, Civic Leaders and Community Events," "World Wars I and II" and "New Church," the book shares memories and stories. From its humble beginnings, the community has grown into four Greek Orthodox Church communities.

"It's a labor of love," Anagnopoulos said. "We learned a lot about our community. And we wanted to leave this for our future generation."


Buy It Now: Greeks in Phoenix $19.99




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