Dr. Pericles Constantine Markakis, loving husband, father and grandfather and Professor Emeritus at Michigan State University, passed away on May 3, 2015. He was 95. In lieu of flowers, his family asked that donations be made to Project Hope for Greece, raising $3,545 for the fund to serve the people of the nation he loved so much.
Pericles C. Markakis, Ph.D.
East Lansing, MI
March 3, 1920 – May 3, 2015
Perry was born in Cassaba, Turkey, near Smyrna, to Constantinos and Yeoryia Markakis on March 3, 1920. In 1922 when he was two years old, his family fled to Greece, following the war between Greece and Turkey and the post-World War I partitioning of the Ottoman Empire. He was raised in Thessaloniki and served twice in the Greek Army, first in the 1941 resistance against the Nazi invasion of Greece when he was captured and held as a prisoner of war for six months on the island of Crete.
In the subsequent Greek Civil War he fought on the side of the National Army. Through this tumultuous time, Perry in 1949 earned two undergraduate degrees, in agriculture and chemistry, from the University of Thessaloniki.
Perry first came to the United States in 1950 as a Fulbright scholar at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He entered the University of Massachusetts in Amherst in 1951 to pursue graduate studies.
At his first course, his professor introduced him to an intelligent and spirited young Greek woman – the only female student in the classroom – who would become his great love and partner in life. Georgia and Perry married in 1953. He went on to earn a Masters and a Ph.D. by 1955.
Most of Perry’s academic career was spent as a tenured professor of food chemistry for the MSU Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition. He was the author of more than 100 scientific articles, reviews and papers — other scientists cited his work more than 130 times — as well as books in English, Greek and Spanish. His research focused on the chemical processes behind Green Revolution initiatives to increase agricultural production worldwide. Among his various explorations were the promise of the cassava root as a major global food source, physical factors contributing to the optimal refinement of olive oil, and the role and extraction of natural food colorants.
During his tenure at MSU he traveled widely to speak at conferences and taught hundreds of graduate and undergraduate students from around the world; many remained in close contact with him throughout his life and invited him to their home countries for teaching, lecturing and consultation. Perry was an elected member of the New York Academy of Sciences, an elected Fellow of the Institute of Food Technology, and a member of many other scientific societies.
During his retirement Perry continued to write, speak and consult on food chemistry. He gave several lectures in Indonesia and was recognized for his consulting work with the Greek food industry. The University of Athens bestowed on him the prestigious title of honorary professor. Outside his professional interests, he and Georgia traveled extensively, spending winters at their second home in Athens and summers at their cottage on the Greek island of Naxos with their children, their families and their beloved extended family in Greece. While Perry remained intensely curious about all things scientific, he also turned to artistic pursuits. He took up poetry and painting, and along with Georgia was a devoted patron and supporter of the MSU Wharton Center for Performing Arts.
Perry was a gentle soul who lived and embodied the values common to Christianity and all major faiths — humility, compassion, concern for the human condition and social justice. He passed these values on to his children, grandchildren and many generations of students.
Visitation was held on Friday, May 8, from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Gorsline Runciman Funeral Home, 1730 E. Grand River Ave., East Lansing, with Trisagion Prayers at 7 p.m. A service held at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, May 9, at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, 1701 E. Saginaw Street, Lansing, officiated by Fr. Mark Sietsema.
Perry is survived by his loving and devoted wife of 62 years, Georgia Markakis (Papathanasiou), daughters and sons-in-law Constance Markakis and Michael Mills of Bethesda, MD, Kathryn Markakis and Geoffrey Williams of Rochester, NY, and Anastasia Markakis Nye and Ronald Nye of South Barrington, IL, and grandchildren Alexandra, Pericles, David, Georgia, Artemis, Brandon, Cameron and Austin. His extended family includes his brothers-in law: Yioryos (Mary) Papathanasiou, Frangiskos (Popi) Papathanasiou and the late Miltos Papathanasiou (Mary); his nieces and nephews, and his cousin Christos (Nesli) Markakis and Kaliopi Markakis.