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200 strong Petropoulos family celebrating 100 years in America

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200 strong Petropoulos family celebrating 100 years in America

Ted and Antoinette Poulos are pictured at their wedding on November 19, 1961. They recently celebrated their 50th anniversary.

Photo contributed/

POSTED July 12, 2012 8:42 p.m.

Ted Poulos’ 85th birthday is being celebrated Saturday at Northgate Park in conjunction with marking his family’s century of living and working in America from their native Piana, Greece.

Poulos has become an icon in the community standing for doing what’s right for his fellow man from operating the long established Manteca Drug Store to helping potential pharmacists by secretly underwriting their college tuition costs.

It is also a little known fact that over the years he quickly recognized ill and weak seniors who were picking up their medications who needed a little tender, loving care.  He would send one of his pharmacy clerks to their homes and make sure they had at least a bowl of soup and crackers – feeding them if that was necessary.

 His actual birthday is next Thursday, July 19,  but Saturday is when some 200 close and distant relatives will let him know just how much they care as the clan gathers at Northgate Park.

Poulos is featured in a 254-page book that trumpets all the members of the Lourentzos, Poulos and Gains families that came to America from Greece in 1913.  It was authored by Katherine Lourentzos of Manteca who was assigned to locate and contact all the relatives for an earlier family gathering in 1995.

“The idea for this book came to me when I was putting together the guest list for our 1995 Lourentzos, Poulos and Gaines family reunion in Manteca,” she said. “My uncle and godfather Tom James and Ted Poulos were sitting around our living room telling me stories about our family and how life was in the early days of Manteca.”

Katherine recalled that they started listing all the relatives for her to invite to the reunion some 17 years ago. 

“I was really surprised at how many people there were in our family at that time, many of whom I didn’t know,” she said. “ So, I thought it would be really great to put a book together with a picture of everyone in the family along with a short story about each person.”

She and some supporting family members saw 150 copies of that 8-by-14 inch edition come off the press in Sacramento just this month in a tribute to every member of the collective group.  It was totally a self-published production complete with photographs and letters, some of which were written nearly a century ago. It was a labor of love for Lourentzos that took 17 years to research and layout for the printer.

Ted Poulos’ impact on Manteca community

The 1995 family reunion had 12 first cousins attending, including Ted Poulos.  He is the only surviving member of that group, according to Lourentzos.

Ted attended Calla Grammar School and later the Manteca High class of 1945.  He followed his brother into the U.S. Navy and was stationed in Newport, Rhode Island.   After the service he attended Modesto Junior College, transferred to the University of Southern California before going north to the Oregon State University Pharmacy School in Corvallis, graduating in 1952.

Ted went to work for pharmacist Les Wilson in 1952, owner of the Manteca Drug Store, who had urged him to get his pharmacy degree, and was instrumental in his reaching that goal.  Three years later Poulos was actively involved in organizing the Central Valley Pharmaceutical Association which included all the pharmacists in the San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties, serving as its first president.

He was elected to the Manteca Elementary School Board of Education in 1969 prior to the district’s unification and served for the final period of the board’s existence.  It was in 1970 that he began his association with the Manteca Volunteer District Ambulance Service that continues to this day.

Ted served first as president of the ambulance service for some 40 years and watched it grow to a $6 million annual operation with 100 employees.

He served for four years as a trustee for the Manteca Unified School District from 1972 and was an active member of the Highway 120 Bypass Committee playing a major role in the success of that group of Mantecans making numerous presentations to the California Highway Commission in Sacramento.

Ted was among the three founders of the Delta National Bank in 1973 in Manteca that included partners Andrew Rossi and Joe Freitas.  He has served as chairman of the board since 1974 and has witnessed the bank’s assets grow to $120 million.

He was appointed to the San Joaquin Delta College Board of Education in 1978 and ran for election unopposed in 1982, 1986 and 1990. 

Doctors Hospital of Manteca appointed him to their governing board in 1980.   In 1987 he was appointed to the board of Virotest, Inc, a biomed company headquartered in Lodi which later merged with the Virotest Plc. of London in 1995 – he continued to serve on that new board.

In the spring of 1994 Ted and his partners sold the Manteca Drug Store to Payless Drug Stores and he retired from the profession after 42 years.  Family members said he loved his early morning golf games at Del Rio Country Club in Modesto and at Spring Creek in Ripon until he gave up the sport.

Reflecting on her family history, Lourentzos said that it really started growing when the women were able to afford to board ships and follow their men, arriving with their children from Greece in 1913.  

  “It’s amazing how our family grew from the original five Petropoulos siblings to nearly 300 living people today in 2012,” she said.

The name Poulos had its roots in Petropoulos that an official at Ellis Island said was too long for use in America when the first son arrived at the immigration station on the East Coast in 1897.

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