Mitcho Pappas, 1920-2012: U.S. history teacher in Start hall of fame


Mitcho Pappas, a history and government teacher at Start High School who left a lasting impression on students, died Tuesday in his Sylvania Township home. He was 91.

The cause was not known. He had several health problems, but “nothing that really slowed him down,” his son Dr. Michael Pappas said.

Mr. Pappas was at Start from the high school’s opening in 1962 until he retired in 1992. He was chairman of his department and taught American history, U.S. government, and, on occasion, economics.

“He loved Start and the people he worked with,” his son said. “He was a loyal person. He liked staying at one spot.”

He was inducted into Start’s hall of fame in 2003, and organizers noted his positive influence among students.

“He had high expectations. He was very structured,” said his son Michael, who like his two brothers was in his father’s class. Mr. Pappas did not shade his grading, either. “You had to make the grade or you wouldn’t get the grade,” son Michael said. “[Some students] told him he had more of a college teaching style than high school, and that’s what they appreciated.”

He was born Demetrios Papagiannopoulos on Dec. 20, 1920, in Greece. He was adopted at 15 by an uncle and aunt who had settled in Missoula, Mont., so that he could come to the United States. He was put in kindergarten to learn English. He was drafted during World War II and served in Europe.

He received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Montana. While a doctoral student at the University of Michigan, he met his wife, Katherine “Kiki” Photos. They taught in Peoria, Ill., for several years before returning to her hometown of Toledo. She became a librarian at Bowsher High School.

The couple married June 19, 1955. Mrs. Pappas died on April 9.

Surviving are sons, Dr. S. John, Dr. Michael, and Dr. Tom Pappas; sisters, Panayiota Datsopoulos and Athanasia Pikuli, and eight grandchildren.

Visitation will be from 4-8 p.m. today in the Newcomer Funeral Home on Heatherdowns Boulevard, with Trisagion services at 7 p.m. in the mortuary. Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Friday in Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral.

The family suggests tributes to Holy Trinity; Hospice of Northwest Ohio; Start High School Foundation, or a charity of the donor’s choice.