Age 85, of Okemos, joined the Lord on January 25, 2011, after having lived a charmed and wonderful life. Lou will be remembered for his unparalleled sense of humor, selflessness, earnest interest in others’ well being and devotion to family. He was an inspiration.
Born in 1925 in Indianapolis to Greek immigrants from Sparta, Lou was the second of four children. Lou was raised in Dayton, Ohio during the Great Depression. Much of his boyhood was spent getting into mischief and having fun with his older brother, Straty, and his many cousins who affectionately called him “Big Louie.” Big Louie’s strong arm and athleticism made him the obvious choice for quarterback and pitcher in both sandlot and organized games, and his humor, optimism and relaxed and engaging ways made him a natural leader. When he was not playing sports, he was participating in Boy Scouts or making airplanes from balsa wood.
In the 1930’s, Dayton was a national aviation center and Lou daydreamed about flying the planes that roared over his neighborhood. In 1943, at 17, Lou volunteered for the Army Air Force. Lou survived 31 missions over Nazi Germany as a tail gunner in a B-17 Flying Fortress and recorded one “kill.” In addition to 10 other medals, Lou received the Silver Star for gallantry in action when, after a bombing run, he straddled an open bomb bay door at 23,000 feet over Germany and repeatedly swung a fire axe to dislodge two bombs that had become hung up in the plane. His actions saved the bomber’s crew of 10.
After the war, Lou attended the University of Dayton (where he played football) and transferred to Indiana University (where he threw javelin, discus and shot put). He thrived in the classroom and earned bachelor’s, master’s and EdD degrees from IU.
At IU, Lou met his wife of 58 years, Bess Makris, a bright, vivacious and attractive “coed” from South Bend. They married in 1952. She was the love of his life and his indefatigable partner. Together, they raised three sons in a joyful and loving household marked by unity, music, deep intellectual curiosity and often dynamic, lively and loud discourse on any topic worthy of discussion or argument.
Lou served as Dean of Students and Dean of Men at four universities. In 1967, Lou accepted a position as Associate Professor in the School of Education at Michigan State University. He became Professor in 1970 and retired as Professor Emeritus in 1992. During his 42 years in the profession, Lou received more than 20 awards for leadership, scholarship and service in higher education, but his students will remember him most for his friendship and lifelong guidance as a mentor.
Lou was preceded to Heaven by his father, Constantine, his mother, Dimitra (Karanzalis), his brother, Stratin, his sister, Joan, and is survived by his wife, Bess, and their sons Philip (Sarah), Theodore (Alyssa) and Timothy (Corrin), eight grandchildren and his brother, John.
The funeral service will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, January 29, 2011 at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, 1701 East Saginaw Street, Lansing, MI 48912, with interment to follow in Evergreen Cemetery. The family will receive friends at the Estes-Leadley Greater Lansing Chapel from 2-4 and 6-8 p.m. Friday, where a Trisagion will be held at 7:00 p.m. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church Memorial Fund in memory of Louis Stamatakos.