TRAVERSE CITY — Katerina D. Stavros, 69, of Traverse City, passed away peacefully on June 29, 2014, at Munson Medical Center after a short illness. Katerina or “Kaiti” (her native Greek nickname) was born on May 4, 1945, in Athens, Greece, under the Acropolis, the daughter of Athanasios and Theope Michalopoulos.
Katerina graduated from St. Joseph Catholic High School, Athens, in 1963, where she learned eight languages. She reveled in her family and friends and the social scene in her community in Athens in the 1960s. Katerina was an excellent sales clerk for a well-known Greek toy company in Athens. In 1969, her sister introduced her to a visiting Greek American named Dennis C. Stavros, and they married in Athens in 1972 and moved to Traverse City, Dennis’s childhood vacation spot. They were married for 42 years at the time of Katerina’s death.
Dennis and Katerina soon opened a Greek imports retail store in the old Arcade of shops in downtown Traverse City in the 70s. Katerina was the consummate Greek cook, homemaker, wife, hostess, and doting mother to two daughters, Elan Athanasia (David) S. Nichols and Christina Theope Stavros, who survive her. She decorated her home like a Victorian mansion and made her daughters’ school lunches from scratch every day, often delivering them herself and having their consumption monitored.
For many years, Katerina worked as a persuasive, successful saleswoman in stores ranging from J.C. Penney to Talbots in Traverse City. She was called upon several times by the community to educate others about Greek culture, including demonstrating the Greek language and cooking. She gave school presentations on these subjects and was interviewed for publications. Katerina was raised by her family and culture to be a loving and hospitable friend and neighbor who threw terrific parties and knew the value of a handwritten note.
Katerina was very proud of her Greek heritage and connected with the fledgling Greek communities in Escanaba, Sault Ste. Marie, and Traverse City. Arni (Roast Lamb), lemon roasted potatoes, pastitso (Greek lasagna), spanakopita (Spinach pie), and of course baklava were some of her specialty dishes, which she cooked for her family and countless friends, acquaintances and others in the area. In 1999, she was honored to become an American citizen, adding to her Greek citizenship, which she maintained. She remarked that Lake Michigan was almost as beautiful as the Mediterranean Sea, and she loved visiting every small and large lake area in the state.