Friends

Memories of Evris

This page is dedicated to the friends of Evris. After his death, his students created the Facebook Group "Evris Tsakirides, We will Miss You Dearly."  Our goal is not to duplicate that wall, but highlight some of the most memorable moments that some of you shared with him. If you would like to share your thoughts, please contact Melya.

Evris co-founded with Melya the "Voice For The Animals Foundation."  For more information, or if you would like to make a donation in memory of Evris, please visit the Foundation's Web site.

 

From his students (copied from Facebook)

I remember this day like it was yesterday--the first day of Latin in 7th grade. Evris had us act out new vocabulary and then we heard his cat music which made the whole room erupt in laughter--which he thought was hysterical. Even though I was terrible at Latin, I can still hear him saying "ambulat." You made sure I passed your class the first semester, and the second semester I got honors. 
You did so much for Crossroads and for animal rights. Crossroads will not be the same without you.
Rest in Peace Evris.

Melissa


After being in Evris's class and a member of the HARP club 7 years ago, he instilled in me a never-ending love and compassion for animals. I have been volunteering since high school at the Santa Monica Animal Shelter when I go back home and now volunteer weekly at the Honolulu Zoo to care for the animals. In January, I even took in two homeless kittens right off of the street who are still happily living with me. Evris is the inspiration behind my future career in animal welfare and has forever impacted my life in the short time that I spent with him.

Rachel


When I first heard the news, it struck me very, very hard. Evris was such a great man. I remember the first time I heard the cat music, and how much I laughed. I remember the drawings and all of the other pneumonic devices that helped me remember everything (I still use those drawings to remember the charts). I remember Auxilium, and how helpful that game was and how much fun it was as well. His teaching style was so unique, so interesting, that you couldn't help but just love him. I was fortunate enough to have him as a teacher, and I'll tell you, everything he taught me, Latin and non-Latin, will stick with me forever. 

A great activist, and a great man. Evris, we will all miss you. Rest in peace.

Matthew


I cannot even begin to describe how fondly and vividly I recall my time in Evris's class SEVEN years ago. I recall wheezing with laughter on several occasions and I have no sort of asthma. This, however, was far from at the expense of learning - It was Uncle Datio and his unfortunate accident - it was "ad, prope, PER, post."- that made me laugh uncontrollably. Evris had getting latin into a seventh grader's head down to an art. Meyla, you have my sincerest condolences. Evris was a truly remarkable person and I will always hold my memories of him, and his class, near and dear.

Paul William Rodi


Evris was my first Latin teacher, in 7th grade. He was also one of the first animal rights activists I ever knew (and I thought he was crazy because of it at the time).

Nine years later, I still study ancient languages, and I've been a vegan for almost four years now.

Largely due to his influence, I went into college majoring in Greek and Latin, which led me to study cuneiform. Hopefully one day I'll have my PhD and become a professor. 
If it weren't for him, maybe I would have never figured this out and I would have gone through life doing something I didn't care about.

Mallory


I've had a few teachers who used to play music in the classroom, but no one played brazilian elevator music on cassette tape.

Alex


From his friends and colleagues

The Barrels

It was 1974, Athens. There were tanks in the streets. E Pluribus Unum was written on them. Curfews were imposed at will and those that disobeyed were given very harsh treatment. The Junta's spies were everywhere. Anyone could disappear at any second. Piercing the terror were the songs of Theodorakis. He had won the hearts of the people. Defiant. Proud. Left wing. Greek. It was illegal to listen to Theodorakis or to sing his songs. People had been killed for this. We had all heard the stories.

One warm summer night, Evri and I joined a group of friends at a taverna called the Barrels. It was so named because of the hundreds of barrels stacked around the room, filled with wine. Marios Stratigopoulos, his brother Costa, and many more friends were there. We took a long table in the center of the room.

After eating a huge meal, with too many courses, everyone lit up their cigarettes. The discussion immediately turned to politics. The Junta was getting stronger with backing from the Americans. Theodorakis had just been arrested. The city was seething. Marios snuffed out his cigarette. In a very low voice, he started to sing a well known song by Theodorakis. A song of revolution. One by one the whole table joined him, singing as loudly as they could, banging their glasses on the table.

Suddenly the owner of the tavern ran over to us. He whispered in Evris ear that there were two colonels from the Junta sitting at the table next to us, listening. Evri motioned to the others to stop singing. One of the colonels approached our table. "Hey that was a nice song you were singing. My friend and I would like you to keep singing it." We all looked at each other. It was clear he called for back up. Marios and Evri exchanged a sarcastic smile. With an obvious gleam in their eyes, they began to loudly sing Byzantine chants. And extremely well.

The officer was furious. He came back to our table and said, "No, I don't mean that song. The other song you were singing. Can you sing that one again?" Louder and with more defiance, the whole table continued singing Byzantine chants. Angry and disgusted, the two colonels walked out. We drank and sang Theodorakis till dawn.

Melya


Papingo in the snow

After visiting my aunt in Ioannina, Thanassis and Evris and I decided to head north. We arrived in a small village named Papingo, high in the mountains of northern Greece. It was Saturday night. The tavern was packed. The whole village was there. It was freezing cold and snowing outside.

Evris, Thanassis and I sat down at the only available table. Next to us were two guys were completely absorbed in a game of tavli (backgammon). We ordered wine. It was December so they has just stomped the grapes. It was the most delicious wine we had ever tasted. So we ordered more.

After a few glasses, I asked Evri to sing. Slowly he began to sing Tria Karavia (Three boats). Acapella. It is one of the most beautiful songs in Greece. Extremely difficult to sing. Heart wrenching. As Evri began to sing, the two guys behind him who had been absorbed in their game, froze, their hands in mid air. They turned, entranced by his voice. They stared at Evri, mouths open for the whole song.

Evri finished. A hush fell over the whole tavern. The room was filled with the kind of religious awe that one is used to feeling in church. No one said a word. Suddenly from a far corner of the room, an old man began to sing, inviting Evri to answer. It's called Kathistica- table songs. After a few choruses, the whole tavnern joined in. We sang and danced and drank and ate till dawn. Greek style.

The next morning was Sunday. As we walked through the church courtyard, we saw the priest. We greeted him politely, thinking how odd it was that at 9:00 AM on Sunday morning, the priest was in the courtyard and not inside the church. As if reading our minds, he replied, "No one came to church this morning. Something was going on in the tavern last night and everyone was there till very late."

We ran to our car, laughing hysterically. 

Melya


Dear Dear man. We talked about radical politics, mystery novels, food, the students, and everything really. He was here when I started teaching. I think of him as my Core group (Tracey, Morgan, Marissa, Robert) who supported me when I first started and couldn't figure anything out. His presence in the world is OFF the world. I will miss him and though I never knew or said it--loved him deeply. He always wore the most beautiful shirts and ties to formal events. We chaperoned the last 7th grade dance years ago. He danced !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That he lived.
was much.

Todd


I have known Evris for more than 40 years.
When I was a kid, he used to come home and help my brother with his Latin and Ancient Greek classes; they were both classmates in High School. I remember he wanted to become a Theater director. 
Our lives crossed again back in 1980 when I went to graduate school in LA. Both he and Melya welcomed me to their home as if we never separated. He loved to write and he loved to teach. He could make learning the phone book fun! It was pleasure and joy to have him as a friend. He deserves his peace.

Kostas


He actually held me when I was around a month old. I've known this giving man my whole life, and always was mystified by his non stop kindness. Until I realized he's just a gem out the billions, that actually cares about animals, others, and everyone's well being. I will always love and miss you Evris.

Aurora


Euripides Tsakirides was born in Thessalonike, the Symbasilevousa (second capital of the 1200 year old Greek Empire, right second to Constantinople) and the only Greek city worth visiting  today. Although he grew up there and thus inhaled the first scents of life, he quickly crossed the Atlantic to settle in Venice, and experienced whatever life had to offer him. He never got over those odors of musk, blooming lemon trees, jasmine, thyme and oregano that only Greek nature can offer in such abundance, the year round practically.

Although he smiled at spirituality in his careless youth that lasted until the end, his faith in the Almighty resounded in his poignant voice when he sang songs of his country of origin. Nothing could move him more than his mother's tongue either. He was gifted with logical, pedagogical and intellectual aptitudes that were just as sweeping as his personal life was chaotic!

He had something, un je ne sais quoi, that made him pleasant to everybody, all the time, as he was the only person I have ever met that was fundamentally and irretrievably incapable of being either bad or negative. He always did what he liked best, with a little help from a friend because he inspired goodness.

Here is a prayer in the form of a quatrain of my favorite poet, Omar Khayyam:

I resolve daily that at dusk I shall repent
For a night with a cup full of wine spent.
In the presence of flowers, my resolve simply went
In such company, I only regret that I ever resolved to repent.

Safe journey, Evri! I know you must be smiling at us now!

Micky M.C.D. Anastasiades


Evris and I were classmates throughout middle school and high school at Anatolia College in Thessaloniki. We resumed contact when I moved to Los Angeles in 1980 and also met his beloved Melya. From childhood, everyone knew that Evris was gifted, special, a real genius. It was mentioned as a simple fact. Evris practically owned the drama club in both middle and high school. At age 14 he WROTE, PRODUCED and STAGED his own plays. I don't know where he learned everything he knew, because he was certainly a teacher and mentor to all of us. Like all great pedagogues, he was a great student as well, always interested in what people said and thought. Thirty years ago he told me for the first time of all the new terminology and new methods for teaching foreign languages, and often, as he loved to do, he would act out some demonstration linking vocabulary to body language, or making funny sounds and connections to aid in mnemonics. Reading the memorial page by his Crossroads students I see that he did that to the very end! What a legacy... I will always remember his intelligence, originality and empathy for others, both people and animals.

I feel that part of my past is gone. Rest in peace, Evri....

Annetta


Once upon what now seems like a very long time ago, there was a pub in Los Angeles called Fran O'Brien's. It was an unlikely Irish place for Greek music and dancing, but there it was, and once a week on Tuesdays Greeks, Greek-Americans, Grecophiles and "Super Greeks" (as my friend Evris used to call them) would gather, drink, eat, and dance hora till they closed the bar at 1:30 in the morning. I first showed up there with a group of translators from the LA Olympic Committee. Thanks to my job in the Graphics Department I met just about everyone there. The guys in the multinational Language Department and I took an almost immediate shine to each other. They made the weekly pub trek to drink and dance and feel a little less like they were in LA.

The invite was generous and I was touched and it sounded like fun - maybe a little cheesy but fun all the same - so I figured what the hell.

That first night at Fran O'Brien's I met Evripides and Melya. They sat at a table with a group of friends: they were those people you see in a public place that somehow you just really wanted to know. He was incredibly bright eyed, even gamine (if you can say that about a man) in a Charles Aznavour kind of a way: he radiated intelligence and good humor and you could tell that underneath all that handsome sparkle a good-natured and slightly sarcastic wit sat coiled. Melya was gorgeous with an amazing mane of thick curly black hair, a radiant smile, and boundless energy. She danced all night.

They obviously loved the music; loved the dancing crowd; and especially loved the odd and slightly ridiculous link to Greece they found in this odd place on Pico Boulevard.

After all this time I'm not exactly sure how the introduction came to happen, but it did.

They were a little wary of me, and who wouldn't be, I didn't have a Greek drop of blood in my body, I wasn't really from LA and I wasn't one of Evris UCLA Greek language students. Which would have put me firmly in the camp of the "Super Greeks" except for the fact that I had lived alone for a winter in a little village in southern Crete and I had learned the language on my own so that put me in some other category, but no one had a clue what exactly that was. I was sincere; I loved the culture; I had no earthly reason for a connection to it. We became friends.

A hundred evenings followed: phone calls, walks on the beach, coffees, cocktails, dances.

And advice, too: I was a struggling grad student; no money, no time to work, no clear solutions. Evris in his wisdom suggested I put on shorts and pumps and head down to the Marina with a bottle of champagne. Surely, he reasoned, I'd be able to find someone to help solve my financial woes. He promised to be my pimp and that he wouldn't take too much money and would try to refrain from beating me too often. Re paidi mou, he'd say with that smile, yiati oxi? Why not, indeed. He was always good for the absurdist solution to an intractable problem: the belly laugh. I could not have afforded the champagne.

A friend with a hot tub in the back yard of her Echo Park rental invited us for an evening of cocktails and Jacuzzi. In bathing suits with champagne in hand we climbed into the luxury of the stars and the water, laughing at the ridiculousness of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous touching the Tapped-Out and Obscure. It was a glorious evening.

I remember them organizing music nights after Fran O'Brien's closed: they'd bring in their favorite clarino player and sometimes Evris would sing. Pote Tha Kanei Xasteria. Old Rebetika songs. His voice was clear and soulful, with a melancholy underneath it, like the pang you get in your heart at seeing a picture of an old lover in a photo album: full of memory, sweet, sad, and maybe a little funny around the edges. Things that make you laugh and cry at the same time; he carried all that in his voice. Once in a while they'd throw a huge party at someone's house up in the Hollywood Hills or in Brentwood and invite hundreds of people, bring in musicians and we'd dance till morning. And if I was in the right mood, sometimes I couldn't help but get up and dance with the Turkish professor who loved to dance with me. It took enough to drink and really good music to get my American guard down, but when it did we would dance tsifteteli and I'd see them grinning in my direction.

I hadn't heard from Mel and Evris for a few years, and when I got the call from her that he was sick and probably wouldn't make it through the month I just wanted to reach out and hold her but I was thousands of miles away. He died less than a week later. He was a light; a brilliant soul; a one of a kind radiant spark. I remember seeing E.T. at the Chinese Theater in Hollywood with them the week it opened;Evris sat next to me in the dark theater and cried without embarrassment as E.T. left for home. Now it's my turn: I can't believe he's gone.

Jo Walker 


I came to the US January 1982. One afternoon in early February Kostas took me to a play reception. The play was about Greek Gods in a modern version. It was a real funny and unique play. There I met Evris and Melya for the first time. Kostas knew Evris since he was a boy; Evris was the same age with Kostas brother. Evris and Melya offered their friendship to Kostas when he came to LA and soon enough they became my friends too. Actually they became more than friends, they became my LA extended family.

Evris was the Best Teacher. That was his passion. He had an amazing talent to simplify complex concepts, and he was SINCERELY happy when his students care and learnt! He was beaming while talking about his students who really cared in learning Greek or Latin and he would have a sadness for those he had thought didn't care. We worked together teaching Greek as a second language for a while and he taught me all the latest techniques and methods which I used later in life teaching computer related topics, in Silicon Valley.

Evris was a thinker - He would be always thinking about his next project, play, book, illustration. Evris was an amazing friend who had the intuition to know what to say to make you feel better in a difficult time.

Evris was a real genius teacher, writer, artist. But some of you may not know that he was also blessed with this amazing voice.

While singing Rebetika or Byzantine hymns, he would take you to another world far away, his hometown Thessaloniki (that happens to be my home town too) or to the beaches of Santorini.

Evris had an inquire mind- he was NOT afraid of death as he was so curious about it. We talked a lot during the last months and I am certain he accepted the end as it is a New Beginning -- and he transitioned peacefully to the other side.

I came down for a day visit on March/24. He was surrounded by Melya and a lot of close friends and the cards from his beloved students- Later that night, literally as soon as I drove home from the airport in North California, Melya called. Evris was gone.

He was gone surrounded by love and support. What a way to GO!

I am sure we will all MISS him terribly, but he will always live within us.

Natassa (Evris memorial, 5/31/09)

 


The originality of his thinking, the compassion which drove all his work, the fierceness of his intent, this is what I knew of Evri, what was always present and what makes us honor him today.

Love,

Olympia


Evris was my teacher and friend, friend and teacher for nearly 25 years. I was never able to figure out which role predominated. I first met Evri when a friend and I decided that before we went to Greece together, we should learn at least a few words of Greek. We scoured the UCLA Extension catalogue and found a Modern Greek evening class taught by someone named Euripides Tsakirides. How could we go wrong with a professor who had such a mouthful of a name? I had studied Ancient Greek in college and graduate school, and now Evris was opening up the nearly limitless world of Modern Greek for me. In Evri I found a kindred spirit. We two could get high on words, morphology, grammar, syntax, rhetorical figures; who needed drugs? We took great delight in discovering Homeric words spoken on the streets of Athens today. We could laugh ourselves silly over a sentence such as, "Well that has to be second person singular, present middle optative; there's nothing else it could be!" or "The uses of the Latin ablative are divided between the genitive and dative in Greek." (And then we'd go through the uses to make sure that this really was true!) This addiction to language was something that neither of our spouses could begin to understand; they certainly must have been ever so slightly suspicious of us! Evris gave me much more than the language, however, so much more that it is almost impossible to calculate. From him I learned about a culture with roots that go back to the Bronze Age and beyond, a culture that embraces its past in its language, a many-layered language which is one of the most beautiful and flexible that I know. Add to that, though, that as it is spoken today, Modern Greek is almost impossible for a foreigner to master. It has been both my delight and despair as I groped my way through the thickets with Evri as my guide.

Set aside language and culture. Evris also taught me much about my own profession, teaching. Listening to, watching, and learning from him made me a better teacher, and grappling with Modern Greek made me a more compassionate one toward my own students who were grappling with Latin. Evris was one of the most giving, talented, dynamic, interesting, and interested teachers I have ever met. Students whom I inherited from him still remembered his jokes and mnemonic devices. They all loved him as I did.

Though I had always thought of myself as an animal lover, Evris opened my eyes to much that is wrong in the relationship between humans and animals. Because of him, I became a vegetarian and stopped buying leather goods. We had many discussions about spirituality, the soul, god(s), and death. He called me a card-carrying atheist, but always listened and never tried to impose his own beliefs on me, even though he was known to ask some searching and (sometimes) uncomfortable questions. The world has lost one of its brightest lights. 

With my apologies to Quintus Horatius Flaccus for changing two words (the meter remains the same):

Quis desiderio sit pudor aut modus tam cari capitis?       

Praecipe lugubres cantus, Melpomene, cui liquidam pater

vocem cum cithara dedit.

Ergo Evripidi perpetuus sopor urget? Cui Pudor et Iustitiae soror,

incorrupta Fides, nudaque Veritas quando ullum inveniet parem? 

Multis ille bonis flebilis occidit,

nulli flebilior quam mihi.                                                      


  

What restraint or limit can be placed upon our mourning for so dear a soul?

Teach me sad songs, Melpomene, to whom your Father has granted 

a melodious voice along with the lyre.

So, everlasting sleep now weighs down upon Evripidi? When will Honor and the sister of Justice,

incorruptible Faith, and unadorned Truth find any equal to him?

He has fallen mourned by many good people,

but by no one more than me.

    

(Horace, Odes, I.XXIV)

Euripidh mou, requiescas in pace,

Katerina