Michael A. Antonakes ’47 died on November 22, 2019, in Peabody, Massachusetts.
(The following was published in The Salem News on November 23, 2019:)
Michael Antonakes of Lynn and Peabody, passed away on Friday, November 22, 2019 after a short illness. He was the husband of the late Elaine (Katsos) Antonakes with whom he shared 63 years of marriage.
A graduate of Lynn Classical High School (1943) and its class president, he began higher education at Bowdoin College and then received an undergraduate degree from Tufts University. He then received graduate degrees from Boston University and New York University. He was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Athens from 1963-1964, and in 1996, he received an honorary degree from Salem State University. For seven years, he taught in the public schools of Gloucester, Lynn, and New York. On the college level, he taught at the State College in Jersey City, and in 1965 he was appointed professor of comparative literature at Salem State University, where he remained until his retirement in 1992. He often said he would gladly pay for the privilege of teaching the great writers.
At Salem State University, he served as chair of the English Department for eight years, was an officer of the Faculty Senate, and served on Governor Michael Dukakis’ Committee on Public Education. In retirement, he was a volunteer lecturer with the Explorers Lifelong Learning Institute of Salem State University as well as a member of the Lynn Democratic City Committee.
A member of Actors’ Equity, he worked in many productions as an actor/playwright in professional and community theater. His plays were produced in Salem, Boston, New York, New Haven, and San Francisco. He was also an interpreter and translator of the works of Nikos Kazantzakis, the author of Zorba the Greek. His doctoral study was on Kazantzakis’ interpretation of the Christ figure and reactions to his views in Greece, France, England, and the United States. He is the translator, along with Thanasis Maskaleris, of Kazantzakis’ Russia: A Chronicle of Three Journeys in the Aftermath of the Revolution, which received a Translation Award from Columbia University.
He served in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II, spent 17 months in the South Pacific, and saw action in the battle of Okinawa.
He is survived by his three children, their spouses, and nine grandchildren: Paula and George McMann of Tyler, Texas, and children, Alana and Christopher Hoffman and Lauren McMann; Dean and Nina Antonakes of Pickering, Ontario, Canada, and children, Michael and Demi; and Steven and Suzanne Antonakes of Boxford, and their children, Evan, Cameron, Charles, Nathaniel and Mia. Dr. Antonakes is the son of the late Anthony and Pota Anthonakes of Lynn. He is the brother of Agnes Ricko of Lynn, and of the late George Anthonakes of Sommersworth, NH and the late John Anthonakes of Duxbury.