Home Community Demetrios Liappas, Pillar of California Greek-American Community, Dies

Demetrios Liappas, Pillar of California Greek-American Community, Dies

Los Angeles, CA – Demetrios Liappas, a pillar of the Greek-American community in Southern California passed away on Sunday, February 20, 2022. A founding member and director (1980-2015) of the Basil P. Caloyeras Center for Modern Greek Studies Center, he worked tirelessly for the promotion of Hellenism at Loyola Marymount University and in the Greek-American community of Southern California. 

“We mourn the loss of a giant in our community”, noted Dr. Christina Bogdanou, Director of the Basil P. Caloyeras Center in a message posted on social media. “Educator, mentor, activist, and dear friend to so many of us, Demetrios was a true Hellene and a pillar of the Greek-American community. His ethos, kindness, generosity of heart, and modesty about his many achievements were unparalleled. His love for Hellenism and its causes has left behind an unforgettable legacy. Our deepest condolences to his loving wife, Katharine, and his family. Dear Demetrios, you will be missed. May you rest in peace”, she added.  

Born in Nestorio, near Kastoria in northern Greece and raised in Thessaloniki, Liappas was a proud Macedonian, with his childhood marred by the troubles of the Nazi Occupation and the Civil War. He acted as a sea scout and he was a soccer player for the youth team of the professional club, Axios, in his earlier life.

His family moved to Cleveland, Ohio, when he was 18 years old. He attended Case Western Institute of Technology, Western Reserve University, and completed his degree in Mathematics at Ohio State University. After many years as a research scientist with the Atomic Energy Commission and as System Analysts in the computer industry, he joined Loyola Marymount University to teach Modern Greek language courses in 1973.

A year later, in 1974, the Basil P. Caloyeras Center for Modern Greek Studies was established at LMU, thanks to the generosity of Peter Caloyeras and the Caloyeras family.

From 1980 to 2014, he was the Director of Caloyeras Center. He instituted the Minor in Modern Greek Studies in 1996, and in 2000 he established the Odyssey Program, LMU’s Summer Study Abroad program in Greece. Under his direction the Center’s program expanded to eighteen courses, eleven of which are included in the University Core and he established several scholarships and academic awards. He raised the funds for an endowed Clinical Professor position in the Center and created an Adjunct Professor position at the Center for Orthodox Christian Studies.

His vision for the Center was realized in partnership with other organizations, such as the Greek Heritage Society, and the American Hellenic Council, which all included Liappas as a founding member.

In the midst of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974, Liappas co-founded the Save Cyprus Council, which evolved into the American Hellenic Council, where he served as a board member until his death.

He was the Interim Director of the Huffington Ecumenical Institute at LMU in 2009.

Demetrios is survived by his loving wife, Loyola Marymount University Professor Emeritus Katharine B. Free, his two sisters, five nieces and nephews, and ten great-nieces and nephews.

A memorial honoring his life and many contributions to the Caloyeras Center, Loyola Marymount University, and the community will take place in April. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you consider a donation to the Caloyeras Center.