New York — Professor George Pilitsis passed away in Boston early in the morning of Thursday September 4 at the age of 55 after a difficult two-year battle with cancer. Dr. Pilitsis was an Associate Professor of Classics and Modern Greek Studies at Hellenic College and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, Brookline, Massachusetts since 1988 and was appointed Director of the Greek Education Department on May 1, 2001.
His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America upon hearing of his passing stated: “A remarkable man and scholar departed from among us, a man who contributed greatly in the field of Greek Education and language. He taught a multitude of students not only with his words and his very effective teaching, but also with his brilliant ethos and his deeply refined soul. He leaves behind a legacy of faith to God, devotion to Orthodoxy, love and nurturing for Greek Letters and unconditional giving to his students. He leaves behind the aroma of a man of decency and dignity.”
George Pilitsis was born in Serres, in Macedonia, in Northern Greece, where he received his primary and secondary education. He came to the United States where he completed his studies at Rutgers University where he received a degree in English and Masters and Ph.D. degrees in Classics.
Prior to Hellenic College/Holy Cross, Professor Pilitsis taught at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and Rutgers University in New Jersey where he established and directed programs in Modern Greek Studies for a number of years. Professor Pilitsis also taught as a visiting Professor at Princeton University.
His scholarly interests and areas of research concentrated in the social and cultural history of Greece from antiquity to the present. He also developed a special interest in the literary accomplishments of modern Greece. His publications include articles on classical mythology and Modern Greek folklore as well as critical studies in Modern Greek poetry.
His well-known translations and critical evaluations of the works of major Greek poets such as Dionysios Solomos, Yannis Ritsos, Nikiforos Vrettakos, and Nikos Gatsos were published in various scholarly journals in the USA and in Greece. He was the editor and major contributor to a book on “Greek Proverbs and Other Popular Sayings”, a collection of over 1000 proverbs published in 1997. Last March he was honored with the prize for the best translation into English for his book “Yannis Ritsos: Selected Poems (1935-1989)” at a ceremony organized by the Greek Society of Translators of Literature in the City Hall of Athens, Greece.
He leaves behind his wife Catherine and his three children Lia, Lora and Gregory.
Archbishop Demetrios officiated at funeral services held at the chapel of Hellenic College/Holy Cross School of Theology in Brookline, Mass., on Saturday, September. 6.