George S. Kleris
George S. Kleris
  • February 19, 1929 - January 1, 2017
  • Atlanta, Georgia

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Dr. George S. Kleris, passed away peacefully on the morning of January 1st, 2017. He was a beloved child of God, son, brother, uncle, husband, father, father-in-law, grandfather, great grandfather and physician. To know him, was to love him.

His life began in a small village named Pyrgos which is outside of Kalamata, Greece. He was the youngest of seven children born to Spiros and Pelagia Kouloumberis. He graduated from high school in Kalamata and later received his medical degree and his doctorate from the University of Athens School of Medicine in Greece, becoming the first person to become a physician from his village. Dr. Kleris completed his internship and residency training in family medicine at Bon Secours Hospital, Wayne County General Hospital and St. John's Hospital in Detroit, Michigan.

From 1972-1984, Dr. Kleris served as the Director of Infectious Communicable Diseases and Social Health Division of the Fulton County, City of Atlanta Health Department. He then served as clinical associate professor at Emory University School of Medicine (1972-1984) and at Morehouse School of Medicine (1985-2005). Throughout his career he contributed multiple publications to the medical literature related to infectious diseases. In 1982, Dr. Kleris was appointed to be Chief Civil Surgeon for the Immigration and Naturalization Service of the Department of Justice for the Southern region. From that time and until days before his passing, he remained responsible for completing the initial examination for immigrants applying for permanent residency to the United States of America. He considered it an honor to practice medicine and enjoyed helping his patients, as they became citizens. In 2015, Dr. Kleris was honored by the Academy of Athens for his contributions to medicine and Hellenism. The Academy of Athens honors people in the arts, sciences and humanities who have made significant contributions in these areas for the betterment of humanity and refers to members as "The Immortals." This past May, he received the Ellis Island Medal Of Honor, which pays tribute to the immigrant experience and the contributions made to America by immigrants and their children.

In addition to his love of medicine, he loved his faith and Greek heritage. He was an active member of the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation in Atlanta, Georgia and a member of the Diakonia Deca Board of the Metropolis of Atlanta. He was named an Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which is the highest honor the Church can bestow on a layman.

Dr. Kleris served as president and co-founder of the American Foundation for Hellenic Studies in partnership with Georgia State University and members of the Greek community. As a result of his efforts, in 1998 the Andrew C. & Eula C. Carlos Family Chair in Contemporary Hellenic Studies was endowed to create the Center for Hellenic Studies at Georgia State University. The Center provides course offerings in the language, literature, history, political theory, philosophy, and arts of ancient and modern Greece. He additionally served on the educational board of SAE, which is a council for Hellenes abroad.

Above all, he will be remembered by his family, friends and patients as a kind, warm hearted, compassionate and generous soul. To say that he will be deeply missed, does not express the depth of loss his loving and devoted wife, Metaxia Panagos Kleris, his four daughters (Paula, Sandy, Krissy, & Renee), son-in-laws, three grandchildren, six great grandchildren, nieces, nephews, friends and all who love him, feel. We will rest in our faith in God and in the knowledge that we will one day be reunited with him.

In lieu of flowers, please consider contributions in his memory to: The Annunciation Cathedral Endowment Foundation, Inc. 2500 Clairmont Road Atlanta, Georgia 30329 or to the Center for Hellenic Studies at Georgia State University 33 Gilmer Street, SE Atlanta, Georgia 30303.