There are many ways to use one’s Greek language. Marilyn Tsapralis McCabe Love uses hers to inspire and teach others. With several generations of educated ancestors in her family, it is no wonder that Marilyn can apply her heritage not only to preserve the culture, but also to further her business career.
Marilyn’s yiayia (grandmother), Marianthe Kolliniatis, and papou (grandfather), John Manousos, came from the village of Leonidion in the Peloponnese area of Greece. Marianthe was standing at the pier in Nafplion when John arrived on a ship, returning home to help his recently widowed mother. When he spotted Marianthe he said, “This is the woman I’m going to marry.” He approached her. They went to her family home. He expressed his desires and they married shortly thereafter. In 1904 John left Greece by himself to seek his fortune and future before sending for Marianthe to join him.
Although educated as a lawyer in Athens, John’s training was not transferrable to the United States but he did serve as a notary public when he settled in Providence, Rhode Island. When Marianthe joined him, they moved to Rochester, New York, and eventually to Tacoma, Washington, in 1909 where Marianthe’s first cousin lived. Marianthe spoke four languages, having been educated by French nuns, and was one of the first Greek women to settle in the Puget Sound area of Washington.
Marilyn’s mother Joanna was the fourth Manousos child, born November 30, 1913, three months after her father died. The family had just moved to Tacoma, prior to her birth, because they had several relatives there to help them. One was Marianthe’s youngest brother theo Mimi (uncle Jim) and another was her first cousin, Jim Korologos. Joanna grew up deep in the Tacoma Greek community. Marilyn tells the story of her parents’ meeting. “Good Friday, April of 1941, a soldier from San Francisco, California, left his barrack at Fort Lewis and came to St. Nicholas for Easter service. Families were asked to take a soldier home for a meal since they were away from their families. My mother, Joanna, spotted a handsome soldier and asked him to join her family for dinner. Meanwhile my Aunt Cleo, already married, wanted to help her youngest sister, so she rushed to tell her she needed to ask this particularly good looking soldier for dinner. Momma laughed when she realized they had both picked the same soldier for Momma.” He was John “Jack” Tsapralis, the son of Reverend Constantine Tsapralis, who was the first priest of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in San Francisco, California. Joanna and Jack were married on October 8, 1944. They had two children, Dean (Constantine) born November 28, 1945, and Marilyn (Marianthe) born November 24, 1946.
As a child Marilyn knew nothing but the Greek community. She often had to think of how to respond to her Greek family and friends, then how to act with non-Greek friends and classmates who did not understand her ethnic traditions. She spent much time with her cousins, John, Dean, Sylvia and Joyce Kalivas, Yvonne Kouklis and Nicki Pangis at church and Greek school. Also in the community were the Arger family with children, George, Katherine and Kosta, plus the Manos/Hankins family with their three children. Joanna was very active in the Daughters of Penelope, sister organization of AHEPA (American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association). She and her two sisters started the initial chapter of the Maids of Athena (young women’s affiliate) in Tacoma which grew into a national organization. Joanna even met with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt in 1944 to promote the Greek War Relief effort.
Marilyn attended Mary Lyon Elementary School and transferred to Fife, which at the time was a small rural community just east of Tacoma, as her mother was teaching there. She graduated from Lincoln High School in Tacoma in 1965 and spent one year at Central Washington State College (now University) in Ellensburg, Washington, but found it not to her liking. Her work began because a childhood friend’s mother was married to the megalo “bossi” (big boss) of the Washington State Employment Security Department and Marilyn was hired through this connection. She began filling out forms, handing out unemployment checks then helped with job search classes. Later she became a case manager in the welfare department even conducting workshops in prisons, much to her mother’s dismay. Marilyn then ventured into teaching seminars about leadership and began to develop her own business while working for the State. Since retiring from the State in 2003 her business, Leading Dynamics, has grown. She has managed a number of employment programs for large companies and agencies. Marilyn conducts workshops, seminars, presents keynote speeches and provides coaching for company executives. Her web site www.leadingdynamics.com describes her work: “Marilyn founded Leading Dynamics on the principle that each person is entitled to be all that they can be so they can live life to the fullest. She is passionate about changing the world, one leader at a time! You’ll see why she is often referred to as a modern day sage when you experience her humorous style filled with practical tips for success.”
Marilyn has always been a reader and loves studying western civilization. About her continuing interest in all things Greek, Marilyn says, “It started in the kitchen” when she began to ask her mother questions about the family heritage. She encouraged her mother Joanna to write names and dates on the back of family photos. She was frequently in plays and presentations at church, in Greek School and at social events. She values her involvement with the Maids of Athena as it helped her develop the leadership skills she uses to this day. In July of 2011 as vice president of the Daughters of Penelope, Icaria Chapter 175 she prepared several display boards showing the AHEPA and Daughter’s Tacoma history. She wants older Greeks to remember their early days and younger Greek-Americans to take pride in their ethnic background.
Marilyn remarried in 2000 to Randy Love. She refers to him as “Mr. Nice Guy,” because he truly is. “My mother loved him from the start,” saying ‘he had many wonderful qualities’ and she was right! We’re enjoying life, family and each other.”
Marilyn cannot imagine not being Greek. She uses Greek stories and words from her own experience to punctuate her business presentations. Her facial and hand expressions reflect the spirit and love she possesses. Her enthusiasm while sharing piles of family photos and in describing her experiences are evidence of her commitment to preserving the family history. In Marilyn’s words, “The Manousos and-Tsapralis families like so many other Greek families, brought their love of life, family and church to this region. Each has their own story to tell, to relish, to pass down to the next generation, and, in so doing, keeping loved ones close to our hearts.”
1 Marilyn Tsapralis McCabe Love with display boards for AHEPA convention, 2011
2 Marianthe and John Manousos, circa 1907
3 Unknown men and John Manousos (with mustache) at his fruit stand, circa 1910
4 Joanna Manousos, 1920
5 Jack and Joanna Tsapralis, circa 1940
6 Joanna Tsapralis, Marie Arger and Kathleen Hallis with Eleanor Roosevelt, 1944
7 Joanna and Jack Tsapralis, circa 1990
8 Marilyn and yiayia Maria Manousos, 1947
9 Girls at Pascha (l-r) Back: Barbara Atkins, Valerie Hatzidakis, Nikki Pangis, Marilyn, unknown little girl; Front: Georgia Kouklis, Francine Manthou, Mary Karanzes, Despina Steragakis, circa 1950s
10 Leading Dynamics business Logo
11 Marilyn, Dean, Joanna and Jack Tsapralis, circa 1970
12 Marilyn, her daughter Mimi and Joanna, 2000
13 Marilyn and Randy Love, 2004
14 AHEPA display board, 2011
Photos 1, 10, 14 by John Nicon; all others from Tsapralis family collection SOURCES
Video interview by John and Joann Nicon, November 2011; The Manousos Family Comes to Tacoma by Marilyn Tsapralis Love, July 2011; family history notes and video by Joanna Tsapralis, January, 1998