Kaliope Michel Xenakis
November 3, 1929 – October 20, 2019
Kaliope (“Kallie”) Michel Xenakis was born at Methodist-Episcopal Hospital in Brooklyn, New York to Anthony and Georgia Michel, immigrants from Sparta, Greece. She grew up in Brooklyn during the Great Depression, living above the family business, Michel’s Restaurant on Flatbush Avenue, later moving to Park Slope.
After graduating high school, and attending some college, she worked as an assistant to the medical staff at Bellevue Hospital and clinics. In the 1950s and 60s, she went on to work in advertising at WQXR, the radio station of the The New York Times and later at the Times itself. During this time, Kallie developed her lifelong love of art and began sculpting and studying and reading about art in general.
She was witness to the golden age of New York City and always maintained a love of her hometown. While at The New York Times, she watched as Fidel Castro, fresh from plucking chickens at his hotel, paraded through the newsroom on his way to the UN. Intrigued by a young artist named Andy Warhol, she went to the opening of The American Supermarket with her friends. As much as she loved the work, $300 seemed a bit pricy for a lithograph of a Campbell’s soup can. Kallie later rethought her position on this.
She met her future husband in San Diego in 1963 at a convention of the Order of AHEPA, a Greek-American philanthropic organization.
Kaliope Michel married Dr. Alexander D. Xenakis on January 22, 1967 at Kimisis Theotokou Greek Orthodox Church in Brooklyn.
She moved to sleepy Fort Lauderdale, Florida, living with her husband in an apartment behind the then-new Mai-Kai restaurant and later moving to Lauderdale-by-the-Sea after giving birth to her son Demetrios.
Soon after moving to South Florida, Kallie walked into a two-room art gallery on Las Olas Boulevard and asked for directions to the Fort Lauderdale museum. When she received the answer that she was standing in it, she knew she had to get to work.
In the 1970s, she became deeply involved with the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art, Friends of the Museum, Beaux Arts and the Las Olas Art Festival. Along with many others, she dedicated her energy to growing the museum and moving it to its current home at 1 Las Olas Boulevard. She also was a member of the Mother’s Club at Pine Crest School.
When her son was old enough for his first submarine sandwich, she took him to La Spada’s.
In 1981, Kallie moved with her family to Deerfield Beach. She was soon appointed to the Deerfield Beach Cultural Committee, later becoming chair.
While on the committee, she helped transform the Deerfield Beach Art Festival from a small art fair into a juried art show and managed it for many years. She also served as co-chair of the Boca Raton Art Festival for several years.
Kallie had hazel eyes and loved mystery novels.
She was a lifelong member of the Daughters of Penelope, the women’s auxiliary to the Order of AHEPA, belonging to Narcissus Chapter #289 in Ft. Lauderdale and also a co-founder, or “godmother,” of Cassandra Chapter #372 of Boca Raton. In her 65 years with the Daughters, Kallie served in multiple roles at the chapter, district and national levels, including as Penelope of the Year, culminating with her serving as national Grand President in 1987. She continued her work as a Past Grand President in her chapter focusing primarily on scholarship fundraising for her district.
She was also a member of the Greek Orthodox Ladies Philoptochos Society chapters in Fort Lauderdale and Boca Raton. Kallie further served her community by raising money to fight cancer with The Papanicolaou Corps for Cancer Research.
She is predeceased by her husband of exactly 33 years and her brothers Peter and James; and is survived by her son Demetrios A. Xenakis and numerous nieces, nephews and godchildren. Kallie leaves behind a legacy of giving and growth, and many, many art books.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks donations be made in her name to the Daughters of Penelope District #2 Scholarship Fund (http://dopd2.org) or the Papanicolaou Corps for Cancer Research (https://thepapcorps.org).
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