Calliope George, a long time resident of Sheridan, passed away peacefully on January 5, 2011 at the age of 98. She had been a resident of Sugarland Ridge in her later years. Calliope was the last survivor of a group of closely knit Greek families who settled in the area in the early 1900s. Those families include the Mavrakis, George, Rulli, Booras, Davis, Matthews, Ghikas, Poulos, Kasternakis, Argus, Uroszek, Richards, Wallace, Catsimanes, Kontos and Loucas families and others. All of those families have moved from the area, either by death or through the pursuit of new opportunities. The Greek Orthodox Church they built at the corner of Custer and Park is no more.
Calliope was born Calliope Petas in Rion Patras, Greece on September 29, 1912 and spent her early years in school and learning to be a seamstress. She met and married William (Bill) George (Georgakis) in 1932, after Bill’s mother, Vasiliki (Bessie) took him to Greece to find a wife. In those days, marriages were arranged in the Old Country. Even though Bill’s mother had made arrangements with Calliope’s father Christos, who was the Mayor of his village, for Bill to marry her, Calliope was fond of saying that her big brother Stavros took her aside and told her she didn’t have to marry Bill if she did not wish to do so. She declared to Stavros, “On the contrary, I am really impressed with Bill and wish to make my life with him.”
The couple traveled by ship and rail to Sheridan where Bill’s father, Thomas George, had settled and put down roots with his family, wife Vasiliki, and children Bill, Dan, Christine and Peggy George. The couple’s first years were spent on North Gould, then they moved to Gladstone Street and later to Highland Avenue, where Bill had helped build their home. Bill, with Calliope’s constant help both at home and at work, built a thriving business which many Sheridanites will remember as Bill’s Western Wear. Calliope’s children will always remember her calling out to them on Saturday mornings to get out of bed and help their Dad with work, because Saturdays were always the busiest days at the store. Calliope was an excellent gardener and kept up flower and victory gardens on the grounds of her home. She canned the vegetables with her mother-in-law, Vasiliki, so that the family would have a continuous supply of them over the long winter months.
Calliope was a lifelong member of the Greek Orthodox Church, and she cherished her religion. She placed ikons in the home, observed Orthodox religious holidays and impressed upon her children the importance of leading a life grounded in Christian principles. When she was unable to attend Greek Orthodox services, she attended St. Peter’s Episcopal Church with her family and over the years developed close relationships with the Rev. Ray Clark, Fr. John Meyer and Rev. Elizabeth Shelton. She was an active member of the Pythian Sisters, a ladies auxiliary to the Greek Church, and the Daughters of Penelope, an adjunct to the Greek Order of AHEPA. She was also a member of the Order of Eastern Star, Friendship Chapter since 1964, and she was an accomplished bridge player who often played at the Sheridan Women’s Club and the Elks Lodge. Calliope was especially proud of her service in the American Red Cross in Sheridan during World War II, and she always had a soft spot in her heart for the GIs she helped during the war years.
After the War and the subsequent Greek Civil War, Calliope would gather clothing and food stuffs and box and ship them by freighter to her less fortunate relatives in Greece. Although Calliope was proud of her Greek heritage and passed on to her children the Greek language, she studied to become an American citizen and was naturalized as such in 1934. She fully embraced her new home and country and always considered herself an American first and a Greek second.
Calliope will be remembered for her intelligence, beauty, tenacity, strength of character and her business acumen. Those qualities allowed her to carry forward after the death of her husband Bill in 1978, after which time she increased her estate and lived completely independently in her home on Highland Avenue. Calliope’s marriage to Bill endured. She never re-married and she always honored her husband’s memory. Calliope loved her family and looked forward to the frequent visits of her children and grandchildren. She always welcomed them home with a hot home-cooked meal, no matter what time of the day or night they arrived. Calliope impressed upon her children the value of education, and as the result, they and their children obtained college and graduate degrees and have become lawyers, doctors, business people, journalists and high technology partners.
Calliope’s survivors include her daughter, Bess George Mitchell, of Port Aransas, Texas, her sons, Thomas W. George and James W. George and wife Elizabeth of Austin, Texas, her five (5) grandchildren, Jennifer Bentley Kidd, M.D., and husband, Desmond Kidd, M.D., of Port Aransas, Texas, William (Billy) George and wife Barbara, of Austin, Texas, Caroline Schaefer and husband David, of Leesburg, Virginia, Alexis Anne George of Nashville, Tennessee, and Christopher Demetrios George of Dallas, Texas. Calliope is also survived by seven (7) great grandchildren, Kai Desmond Kidd, Thomas and Abigail George, and Nicholas, Ethan, Phyllis, and Nora Schaefer. In addition, she is survived by several nieces and nephews and their respective families.
Trisagion services will be held at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday (Jan. 11th) from St. Peter’s Episcopal Church with the funeral service at 10:30am on Wednesday from St. Peter’s Episcopal Church with Father Jordan Brown, Dean of the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Portland, Oregon officiating. Fr. John Meyer and Rev. Shelton will also participate in the funeral service. Internment will be in the Masonic No. 8 Section of Sheridan Municipal Cemetery next to her husband Bill. Arrangements are with Champion Ferries Funeral Home.
Pallbearers will be William (Billy) George, Christopher George, Dr. Hugh K. Batty, Hon. Larry D. Herman, Dr. Richard Anderson and Harbee Tharaldson. The Honorary Pallbearer is Theodore George.
The family is deeply grateful to Dr. Hugh K. Batty for his many years of personal care for Calliope and especially for his dedication and concern during Calliope's final days. The family also thanks the staff of Sugarland Ridge, Westview and Sheridan Memorial Hospital for all of their special care and attention to Calliope.
Goodnight Dearest Mother. May you rest in peace where the righteous repose. You were dearly loved and will be greatly missed.