Michael H. Pahos
August 3, 1929 – February 7, 2020

It is with great sadness, yet with hope in the Resurrection that the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of San Francisco shares news of the passing of Michael H. Pahos, Archon Ekdikos, who reposed in the Lord on February 7, 2020, surrounded by his loving family.

“To say that Mike was a pillar of the Saint Barbara parish would not do justice to the leadership he provided for this community,” stated His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos of San Francisco. “Mike was not the kind of person who directed others in their service, but rather he led by example in his professional career, and especially through the vision he brought to his beloved parish of Saint Barbara. After leading a full and rich life, Mike is resting in the arms of Jesus Christ and is now joining with the angelic choir singing praises to the Lord.”

Mike is survived by his loving wife of 61 years, Vivian Pahos, daughter Maria Pahos-Benson (Bruce), son Theo Pahos (Leora), sister Georgia Tripsas (Trifon), and adoring grandchildren Marie and Vivian Pahos.

The Trisagion Service will be held on Thursday, February 13 at 7:00 p.m. at St. Barbara Greek Orthodox Church, 1205 San Antonio Creek Road in Santa Barbara. The funeral service will take place at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, February 14, with interment at Santa Barbara Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Saint Barbara Greek Orthodox Church or the Santa Barbara Choral Society.

May his memory be eternal!

Obituary for Michael H. Pahos

Mike Pahos told his family that he was the “the luckiest man alive” shortly before he passed on the evening of February 7, 2020 at Cottage Hospital surrounded by his family and friends. He died the same way he lived: with grace and dedication to his family, friends and church.

Mike Pahos was born in Newcastle, Pennsylvania on August 3, 1929 to Greek immigrants Theoharris and Mary Pahos. His father moved to America after having worked as a laborer in Egypt laying tracks and later in Newcastle where he worked in the coal mines. His mother came to America at age 15 in 1919 with her mother and two sisters. When Mike was six, the whole family – older brother Nick, Clara, Delight, and younger sister Georgia – moved to Chicago and lived in an apartment building that was mostly occupied by Greeks, Italians and Pols. His Father worked at the Aragon Ballroom, a venue that was popular with all the great musicians of the 1930’s and 40’s. He helped his father at the Aragon as a soda jerk and gained a love for music and dancing—a passion that remained with him for the rest of his life.

In high school, Mike focused on fun. He played football and was a highly regarded dancer but not much of a student. In his teens Mike taught himself how to play the piano and often entertained patrons with his talents in Chicago’s neighborhood bars.

During the Korean War, Mike was drafted but spent his entire military tour in Germany, miles away from the war that raged on the Korean Peninsula. For that he always thanked God. After the war, Mike moved back to South Bend, Indiana to join the family who had bought Harry’s Grill, a small diner that served Greek specialties, next to the Studebaker factory. Before that plant shuttered, they sold the diner and moved to Southern California where he and his siblings found jobs and bought homes in the post-war expansion. Mike took a job in the Fisher Auto Body manufacturing plant and realized he needed to get serious in life. He enrolled at UCLA and later transferred to Berkeley where he earned a degree as a Landscape Architect.

While in Berkeley, he met the love of his life, Vivian Philis, an attractive airline stewardess for Pan Am living in San Francisco, who was also Greek American and a committed Orthodox. He was set up with Vivian by his older sister Clara who told him to call a women she knew in San Francisco for a free meal. When Mike knocked on her door, he expected an older Greek woman to answer. Instead, a glamourous young women answered the door who instantly stole his heart. “I was so nervous, I don’t think I said more than 2 words during dinner” Mike recalled. His love grew stronger every time she boarded a plane to some exotic international destination. In 1959, after a short courtship, they married in Holy Trinity in Worchester Mass. After a long honeymoon in Greece, Vivian supported her then student-husband until he found a job with the State Parks Department in Goleta, CA in 1960. They had their first child, Maria Pahos, in 1963 and Theoharris (named after Mike’s father) in 1966.

In 1964, Mike took a job with the City of Santa Barbara and was later promoted to City Park Director where he began a long and storied career as a fierce advocate for Parks. In 1972, Mike was appointed by the County Board of Supervisors as County Parks Director where he served 22 years. His list of accomplishments is dizzying. He acquired thousands of acres of open space that he turned into Parks for the residents of Santa Barbara to enjoy. He saved the Historic Lobero Theater which is a thriving cultural and entertainment venue, and took over the County Bowl, Santa Barbara’s intimate concert venue nestled in the hills of Santa Barbara, that is one of the best places to enjoy live music on the entire west coast. The Bowl earned more money in the first year under Mike’s leadership than it had the previous 20 years combined. His final accomplishment was the purchase of 118 acres of coastline known as “Santa Barbara Shores”, a popular recreation destination and butterfly preserve that he believed would be important for the Santa Barbara Community much the way Central Park is important to the residents of New York. Mike Pahos’ faith in his church and dedication to the Greek Orthodox community, Saint Barbara (named after the City it resides in), is his most enduring legacy. He was active in the community for over 55 years, is regarded as the pillar of the parish and the “Godfather of the Greek Festival.” Mike was the Chairman of the festival for over 15 years and grew the annual event from a small celebration that changed venues from year to year, to a major cultural and ethnic event in Oak Park-- a place that closely resembles the Greek countryside. The proceeds raised from the festival helped the Greek Church to relocate from a quaint building in downtown Santa Barbara, to a beautiful Cycladic-Style building perched on the hills of Santa Barbara. The church was constructed in 1986 and consecrated in 1989. It was fully paid off not long after completion, largely due to Mike’s efforts with the festival and his leadership in the Parish.

Michael Pahos spent his entire adult life involved in the church and on the Parish Council. He and his wife Vivian worked tirelessly to support the church. They kept a mobile BBQ in the backyard and would set up at local civic events selling souvlaki to raise money for Saint Barbara’s. His daughter Maria was dance director and son Theo was GOYA president and an altar boy. The Pahos family opened their home to visitors to the church and would do what they could to help many of the Greek-American students that came to Santa Barbara to attend UCSB.

According to Dr. Ernest Kolendrianos, who is a fellow Archon and protégée, “he was the living embodiment of Orthodox Faith though his decades of involvement, especially with the Greek Festival.” Mike Pahos served as Council President for only 2 terms because “his talents were needed with the festival and his ability to navigate county politics,” said Kolendrianos. Those political talents were needed because the proposed Church with its beautiful white washed walls and blue tiled roof was strongly opposed by the well-heeled neighbors at the time. A protracted political fight pitted neighbors of this tiny neighborhood against Santa Barbara’s Greek Community. Ultimately with the advocacy of Mike and others, the County decided to grant a permit to build the church. “The day they ruled in favor of the church was the happiest I have seen my father,” noted Theo Pahos. For his efforts, Mike was awarded the Archdiocesan Medal of Saint Paul in October of 1986 by Archbishop Iakovos.

In 1989 Michael Pahos was invested as Archon in the Order of St. Andrew the Apostle with the rank of Ekdikos by Archbishop Spyridon. It was an honor he wore proudly and the pinnacle of a long life committed to his church and Orthodoxy.

Michael Harris Pahos was a talented, dedicated servant of the church and his community while being a loving husband, father and Grandchildren.  He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Vivian Pahos, daughter Maria Pahos-Benson, son Theo Pahos, sister Georgia Tripsas, son-in-law Bruce Benson, daughter-in-law, Leora Pahos, and grandchildren Marie and Vivian Pahos.

A Trisagion Service will be held on Thursday, February 13 at 7:00 p.m. at St. Barbara Greek Orthodox Church, 1205 San Antonio Creek Road in Santa Barbara. The funeral service will take place at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, February 14, with interment at Santa Barbara Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Saint Barbara Greek Orthodox Church or the Santa Barbara Choral Society.