Annapolis Greek Heritage

Preserving the Legacy of Greek-Americans in the Annapolis Area

Mandris and Apostol Families


Nicholas James Mandris was born in Koumusta, Sparta, Greece, on October 1, 1885. He was the oldest of four children born to James and Mary Mandris. When Nicholas was quite young his father was killed accidentally. Nicholas, being the oldest child, had to find a way to help his mother support the family. With the help of the Prevas family he came to America via Ellis Island and settled in Baltimore, Maryland. He worked with the Prevas family and made a few trips to Annapolis. Liking Annapolis, he decided to settle there. He made a trip back to Greece where he married Helen Apostolakou, from the next village, Xerokambi, in 1914. They couple came back to the United States and made their home in Annapolis. Nicholas worked hard and purchased a small business in downtown Annapolis and a building on Main Street where they made their home. There they welcomed their children, Mary in 1916, Demetrius in 1917, Stavroula, Crossie, in 1921, and Georgia in 1926. Nicholas also managed to bring his Mother and siblings, Louis, Pota, and Vassilo to America. Nicholas became a naturalized citizen of the United States on April 14, 1924, and Helen on December 14, 1937.

Cleomenis Apostolakos was born in Petrina, Sparta Greece, on April 27, 1903. He was the oldest of four children born to John and Georgia Apostolakos. He came to the United States, via Ellis Island, in 1921. From that time on his name was Cleo Apostol. He was met by his cousins the Cappas family and taken to Chicago to work in their restaurant. While in Chicago he received his American Citizenship on October 24, 1927, with the help of Clarence Darrow. He told his children stories about serving coffee to Al Capone. After a few years he went to New York where, again, he found work in a restaurant. It was a struggle since he did not know English at first, but he persevered and learned along the way.

Mary Mandris was born on February 3, 1916, in Annapolis, Maryland, the oldest of four children to Nicholas and Helen Mandris. She attended public schools in Annapolis, and graduated from Annapolis High School, in 1934. She worked with her Dad in a small restaurant and packaged goods store on Market Space. The plan was to work the business so that her brother Demetrius could have it. Demetrius, however, went on to American University and got a degree in Architecture. He did not want to take over the business.

Cleo made the trip to Annapolis with relatives. There he met Mary and a few months later they were married on January 30, 1938, at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Baltimore, Maryland. They moved to New York for a few months. Upon returning to Annapolis for a visit, they were given the option to take over Nick Mandris’ business since Demetrius did not want it or go back to New York. Cleo, realizing that this was a chance to have a business of his own, stepped up and took over the business. He made a deal with Nick Mandris to call the restaurant Mandris Restaurant and to take over the mortgage. Cleo was a hard worker and grew the restaurant and eliminated the packaged goods.

Mary and Cleo moved into a small home behind the restaurant on Randall Street. There they welcomed their first-born John on November 28, 1938, and their daughter, Georgia, on March 6, 1943. It was a nice home, but quite small, so in 1946 they purchased their home on Franklin Street. In this home they welcomed their son Nicholas on June 23, 1948. This is the home where they raised their children. Being in the center of Annapolis was wonderful and everything was within walking distance. Cleo could walk to the restaurant and Mary could walk over to West Street and get groceries. Yiayia and Papou; Helen and Nicholas Mandris, were just a few blocks away. There were quite a few Greek families living in the area, so on a walk downtown they would always see someone they knew. John, Georgia, and Nick always complained that they really had to behave because someone was always watching.

The Greek Orthodox Faith was important to Mary and Cleo. In the years before there was a Greek Orthodox Church in Annapolis, they sent their children to St. Anne’s Episcopal Church to attend Sunday School. They would also make trips to Baltimore to the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church on holidays.

In 1948 Mr. Steve Foundas donated $50,000 and a piece of land for the construction of a Greek Orthodox Church in Annapolis. Mary’s brother, Demetrius Mandris, designed the plans for the Church. As the story goes, when Mr. Foundas saw the plans, he said that the Church was too small, to which Demetrius said that to make it bigger would cost more money. Mr. Foundas said make it bigger, and I will pay the difference. He was a very generous man as far as the Church was concerned.

Cleo was very handy with carpentry and made the first Kouvouklio for the first Good Friday service in the new Church. Georgia recalled that it, sat quite stately, in the front room of their home for inspection from the first Priest. Cleo made many other items which the Church needed.

Cleo was always involved with the Church as he was President at one time and Treasurer of the Parish Council. For many years, the Church raffled off a Cadillac to raise money. Cleo sold many a raffle tickets to benefit the Church. The raffle was a good money raiser. There were also dances with big named bands. Cleo worked hard with John Kallis, Savas Pantelides, Pete Paliagos, George Nichols, Steve Panos and many others to keep the Church solvent.

Mary worked hard also. She was a member and one-time president of Philotochos. She participated in many bake sales and other fund raisers. She also taught Sunday School for many years. There are many photos of the Sunday School with their teachers on the front steps of the Church on Easter Sunday.

John and Nick served in the altar and Georgia sang in the choir. The Church was a family project.

The Church became the center of family and social life. There was Liturgy on Sunday and Greek School during the week. Living on Franklin Street made the walking trip to Church quite an adventure. John and Georgia would walk down Franklin Street meet with Billy Characklis and go up Murry Avenue where they would meet with George Kallis, George and Teddy Economy, and Bessie Demas. By the time they got to Church, which was always late for Greek School, there would be a gang of Greeks. Lots of laughs and many balls games on the corner of Steel Avenue.

It is amazing to think that Mary and Cleo could accomplish so much, raise a family, and run a business at the same time.

During the summer, before air conditioning and television, they would sit on the front porch in the evenings. Most evenings someone would stop by and Mary would run into the kitchen and put on a pot of coffee and get out some koulourakia. Such fun times and good memories.

Mary’s sister Stavroula, Crossie, married George T. George and moved to Brooklyn Park just outside of Baltimore. They had two children: Tom and Denise. Tom married Jane Harwood and they adopted Sasha from Russia. Denise married Carl Nelson and have a daughter Michele who married Richard Hughes and had a son Logan. Denise is now married to Steve Cruse. Crossie and her family went to Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church.

Mary’s brother Demetrius and his wife Rose and their daughter Helen, Leilani, settled in Baltimore where he worked as an architect. After designing the original Church in Annapolis, Demetrius designed the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in the Highland Town area of Baltimore, Maryland, and then designed the Educational Building for the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Baltimore. At the height of his career Demetrius died at age 45 in 1962. His daughter, Leilani, married Gene Cantemiry and had two children Jamie who married Michael Hitchock and has two children, Eleni and William, and Dean who married Debbie and has four children: Evan, Jason and twins Piper and Penelope. Leilani is now married to George Sifakis.

Mary’s other sister, Georgia, married George T. Nichols, and they settled in Annapolis with their two daughters, Ann who married Nicolas Lygoumenos and had a daughter Alexis, (sadly we lost Ann in 2007) and Eleni who married Gene Uricoli and has three daughters Darcy who, married Michael Kreutz and has two daughters; Moxie and Piper and Arley and Gina. She and her husband stayed involved in the Church. George Nichols was president of the Parish Council and worked hard for the Church. Georgia Nichols was active in Philoptochos, and helped with fund raising for the Church. George Nichols died in 1978 and Georgia Nichols died in 2012.

Sundays were special because everyone would gather at Yiayia and Papou’s house for lunch. It was wonderful to get together with cousins and aunts and uncles. On occasion, Mary’s cousins would come from Washington, D. C. and the party would get bigger and better.

Papou had a large tract of land in Parole and donated a portion to be used as a cemetery. He named it St. James Cemetery in honor of his father and brought his mother’s remains to be buried there. She is in the circle with the big cross in the center. Sorry to say, that the cemetery is filling up.

Papou’s farm was a wonderful place to have picnics. He would put in many vegetables and we would go and help him dig potatoes, pick tomatoes, and go to the spring for fresh water. Such wonderful memories of a wonderful childhood filled with a loving family and many, many caring friends.

Cleo did have two partners in the restaurant. Gerasimos Lagacos was his partner for a few years. He was also Mary and Cleo’s koumbaro and baptized their son John. After a few years, he went to New York with his wife and two sons. Cleo’s other partner was Peter Apollo. He was a cousin to Helen Mandris. He remained with the business until his death in 1957. Being unmarried with no heirs, he left his share of the business to Mary. Things changed after “Uncle Pete” died. Mary had to start working full-time in the restaurant. Cleo would open the restaurant at 6:00 a.m. and stay until 4 p.m. and Mary would help at lunch time and then go back at 4:00 p.m. and close the restaurant at 10:00. It was a busy schedule, but they kept it up for many years. On weekends the children had to help. The children never lacked for a summer job. Even though the restaurant took more time and effort, Mary and Cleo, together with their family, were always involved with their Church.

John went on to graduate from Annapolis High School in 1956 and went on to The University of Maryland. He got his degree in Accounting and served two years in the United States Army as an auditor. He married Wilda Lewis in 1967 and had two children: Christopher and Angela. John worked in the restaurant for a while and decided that the restaurant was not for him. John got involved in politics and ran for Mayor of Annapolis and won two terms. He and his family then moved to Florida to get away from the northern winters. As their children grew and moved on so did John and Wilda. They finally settled in Evans, Georgia, just outside of Augusta. Their son Christopher completed his studies and has become a physician and is practicing in Augusta. He married Melissa Whitley and they have twins, Jonathan and Mary Grace. Angela completed her studies and is working in Human Resources. She married David Phillips and has two children; Connor and Hailey. They are living in Seattle, WA. Sadly, John passed away three years ago.

Georgia graduated from Annapolis High School in 1961 and went on to the University of Maryland where she spent three semesters before marrying George Yeatras in 1963. They moved to Richmond for three years while George completed his studies in dentistry. They moved to Winchester, VA., where George set up his dental practice. They have two children, Stavro and Mary. Stavro graduated from Handley High School in 1986 and took classes at Lord Fairfax Community College. He married Melany Thompson and they have a daughter Cleo. Melany has a son Jordan from a previous marriage who is married to Malinda Kleman and they have a daughter Kylie. Mary graduated from Handley High School in 1987 and went on to graduate from James Madison University and on to American University for a Masters. She married George Stathopoulos and they have two sons Christopher and Theodore.

Nicholas graduated from Annapolis High School in 1966. He went on to Roanoke College and then completed his education at American University in Washington, DC. Nick worked for many years as an accountant for a large law firm in Washington. He married James Marks. Nick and Jim are retired and living between Fort Lauderdale, Florida and Northampton, Massachusetts.

Mary and Cleo sold their business in 1968 and retired. After the loss of her mother in 1961, Mary took on the care of her father with the help of her sisters. Nicholas Mandris died in August of 1973.

In 1974, Cleo finally made a trip back to Greece to visit his Petrina. Mary and Cleo spent five months touring Greece with the help of their son Nick. They enjoyed the trip even tough the political climate was not good that summer.

After returning from Greece, Mary and Cleo travelled extensively. They loved to cruise. They also made trips to Alaska, Hawaii, New Zealand, China and Germany and toured much of the United States. All was well until Mary’s eyesight started to fail and the travelling had to stop. Cleo died in 1996 at the age of 93. After his death, Mary stayed in her home for a few years and then moved to an assisted living facility. Mary died in August 2003