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Preservation of American Hellenic History

Themistocles Rodis: B-W Professor, Greek-American Historian

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Themistocles Rodis, retired professor of American and European history at Baldwin-Wallace College and a Cleveland Greek-American community activist, died Sunday [July 13, 2008] at Lakewood Hospital.

He was 90.

He co-authored a book, One Hundred Years of Greek Americans in Cleveland, published in 1984.

The book was later updated for a second edition by Rodis and co-author Mike Vasilakes with a new title, Greek Americans of Cleveland Since 1870. The third edition will be available in September [2008].

"He felt very strongly about preserving the immigrant Greek history and the contributions of the immigrants," said Vasilakes, of Lakewood, the editorial director of Specialty Gas Publishing, Inc., a quarterly trade magazine based in Warren, N.J.

His studies and teachings specialized in ancient Greece and Rome, the French Revolution and Napoleon, and ethnic and immigration history.

He retired from B-W in 1987 as emeritus professor, after a 35-year teaching career.

Rodis authored several historical works including "Greeks" (Encyclopedia of Cleveland History), "Russo-American Contacts during the Hoover Administration," and several articles in The World Book Encyclopedia.

He served as Sunday school teacher, Greek school curriculum adviser and board member at the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation in Cleveland.

He was born Themistocles Rodopoulos in Bridgeport, Conn., to Greek immigrant parents. When the family arrived in America, port authorities had difficulties spelling his name and shortened it to Rodis.

"In the Greek community, he was still known as Rodopoulos," said a daughter, Estelle Brown, of Garrettsville. The family settled in Cleveland in the early 1920s."

Rodis graduated from Lincoln High School. He held a degree in philosophy/literature from Miami University, a master's degree in history at Western Reserve University and a doctorate in history from Case.

In 1969, he took a three-year leave of absence from B-W to serve as dean of students at Hellenic College in Brookline, Mass.

Rodis was a founding member of the Hellenic Preservation Society, and served many years as the society's newsletter editor.

He served with an Army Intelligence Unit in Europe during World War II.

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