On the way to his interview Pericles “Perry” Homer Scarlatos, while clutching several manila folders full of family history and photos, said “I’m ready for my grilling.” This comment truly represents this man who has always been thoroughly prepared for any task he has undertaken.
According to Perry, the family’s home village is Kyriakohori in the mountains of northwest Greece near Lamia. The family name was originally spelled Skarlatos, but evolved to Scarlatos even though other relatives in the United States kept the original spelling.
Upon his arrival in the United States in 1909, Perry’s father Pericles “Pete” Scarlatos initially settled in West Virginia where he worked in the mines. Later he found his way to Everett, Washington, and worked in the mines there. It was in Everett that he became involved in the restaurant business. Shortly thereafter he moved to Seattle where he was the senior partner in the Eagle Café in the downtown area. Other partners at the Eagle Café were Peter Wells, Nick Cooper and Don Andrews, all of whom went on and successfully started their own restaurants. In 1921 Pete was the president of the board of trustees of the Greek Community of Seattle and was instrumental in the founding of St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church. Perry’s mother, Wilma (Wilhelma Anna) Sees (Suesz) was Hungarian and they met while she worked for his father. Perry’s father eventually entered the insurance business.
Pericles was born on July 1, 1924, and was followed by his brother Milton (Miltiades) and sisters Doris and Ramona. He recalls that the family lived fairly well until his father died in 1935. For the next several years his mother took over the business traveling by street car or bus to meet with clients. It was a very difficult period for the family until she became well versed in the insurance business.
Not only was the family name altered from Skarlatos to Scarlatos, but in his early years his mother legally changed his name from Pericles to Perry. His middle name, Hronis, was Perry’s paternal grandfather’s given name. Perry changed his middle name to Homer after being teased by classmates, believing it to be a more readily understood and classical name. As Perry’s father and mother were both fully conversant in English it was his first language rather than Greek. The Greek culture was not foremost in his upbringing. However, in the fifth grade Perry participated in a debate on the contributions of Greece to the world. This significantly changed his attitude about his father’s homeland. In 1953 when Perry went to ask for the hand of Arita “Rita” Athan (Athanasopoulou), her mother chastised him for not being Greek enough and initially refused to participate in the wedding. Eventually, and with the help of a Greek-speaking friend, the family warmly accepted him and did participate in the wedding. Perry’s son, also Pericles Hronis Scarlatos is called “PH” for short and “H” by his family.
Perry attended public schools on Queen Anne Hill in Seattle. At the University of Washington, he enrolled in the Naval ROTC and graduated with a combined degree in Engineering and Naval Science. After serving as a navigation officer in World War II, he returned to the University and completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering.
He worked for a short time at a bank where his father’s reputation with the bank manager helped secure Perry’s employment. He began working for the Boeing Company in 1948, first in the guided missile space program and then in aerospace and some airplane programs. He was at the forefront of guided missile development. Perry’s unique skills enabled him to bring professionals from across all disciplines together to plan and carry out tasks. He assumed increasingly complex responsibilities and ultimately retired in 1990 from the position of Program Planning and Control Manager with 1000 people reporting to him directly and indirectly.
Perry’s work experience, his methodological approach to life and sensitivity with people is clear. These characteristics show in his volunteer work with the Greek Orthodox Church of the Assumption in Seattle and the larger Greek community. He loves his church and especially enjoyed singing tenor in the choir. He was actively involved in the formation of the GOYA (Greek Orthodox Youth of America) chapter at his church serving as chapter president and then regional president for Greek Orthodox Youth Affiliates of western United States chapters. He also played on various athletic teams of Greek fraternal organizations: GAPA (Greek American Progressive Association) and AHEPA (American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association). In 1979 he contributed to the publication The Assumption Church in History, 1939-1979. He served on the board of the All Saints Camp, an outreach program of the Seattle Greek Orthodox Churches. He used his extensive knowledge of the Greek community as a major contributor and proofreader for A History of Saint Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church and Her People, 1882-1999. Perry was ever present at church and Greek gatherings with old photos seeking to identify the unknown parties in the pictures.
Reflecting on a 42-year career at the Boeing Company and extensive involvement in the Greek Orthodox Church and Greek community Pericles says, “It has been an interesting life.”By John and Joann Nicon, July 2011
1 Perry with the St. Demetrios 75th Anniversary Book
2 Eagle Café in 1919: Don Andrews, Pericles Scarlatos (far left) Wilma Sees (center front) Peter Wells (center rear) Nick Cooper (far right), others not identified
3 Mother’s letter to change Perry’s name
4 Perry as navigation officer on the destroyer USS Edison
5 Perry, Arita and children
6 Scarlatos siblings and spouses,1994: Pericles, Arita, Doris Catherine Westphal, Ramona Ann Marsland, Milton Demosthenes Scarlatos, Hans Westphal
Photo 1 by John Nicon, all others from Scarlatos family collection SOURCES
Interview by John and Joann Nicon, July 2011; A History of Saint Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church and Her People 1882-1999; The Assumption Church in History, 1939-1979