Mary H. Michaelides
Mary Helen (Loukides) Michaelides’ life was defined by her career as a journalist and her love of the movies. She literally grew up at the movies. Her childhood home was next to the Liberty Theater in Plainfield, N.J. Her parents, George and Stama Loukides, ran the adjoining confectionery store. She saw a movie almost every day for free. If she wasn’t at a screening, she was working in the family’s store where, much to her parents’ dismay, she preferred reading movie magazines to waiting on customers. (Among the customers she ignored was middleweight champion Rocky Graziano.) She knew more details about Hollywood stars than about the members of her large Greek family.
Mary Helen Loukides was born on Jan. 12, 1929, nine months before the onset of the Great Depression. The economic collapse had a lasting impact on her. She maintained a frugal lifestyle all her life; however, she thrived on the reflected pleasure in the glamour (Myrna Loy in “The Thin Man”), adventure (Cary Grant in “Gunga Din”) and optimism (Judy Garland in “The Wizard of Oz”) of the movies.
In 1954 she married George Michaelides. That same year they saw “On the Waterfront” (Marlon Brando, Eva Marie Saint.) After the film ended she insisted they drive to the film’s location in Hoboken, N.J. Whenever she retold the story she would add a coda — the film’s director Elia Kazan was Greek. Throughout her life she kept a running tab on prominent Greek-Americans: Sen. Paul Tsongas, Sen. Olympia Snowe and actor Olympia Dukakis received two thumbs up. Vice-President Spiro Agnew and Trump’s former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus got two thumbs down. After moving to Keene, in 1966, she joined St. George Greek Orthodox Church, where she taught Sunday School and became one of the first female readers to assist with the divine liturgy. At one point she was the only woman serving on the church board. (The men asked her to brew coffee — she refused.)
Books were an important part of Mary’s life. She was in her element as a part-time librarian at the Keene Public Library. She also was a faithful member of a book group comprised of special women who were her dear friends for many decades. She began her journalism career as an obit writer for the Plainfield (N.J.) Courier News. Over the next five decades, she wrote for a number of papers, including the Boston Globe, taught journalism at Franklin Pierce College and worked in public relations at Cheshire Medical Center, but her favorite job was writing for the Keene Sentinel of the 1960s and 1970s. Though she was a very pious woman, she loved the smoking and cussing inside the Sentinel newsroom. It is fitting that before her death she watched “His Girl Friday” (Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell) one last time.
Her husband predeceased her in 2013. Her sister, Olga Loukides Nickles, predeceased her this past February, 2019.
She is survived by her children, Lee Michaelides (Marga Rahmann) of White River Junction, Vt., Eugenia Michaels of Seattle and Adele Michaelides Thomas (Terry Thomas) of Keene; a granddaughter, Alexandra Rahmann of Dover; brothers, George Loukides and Paul Loukides; and beloved nieces and nephews.
A funeral service will be held on Friday, June 7, at 11:30 a.m. at St. George Greek Orthodox Church in Keene.
In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the Starfish Foundation (http://www.asterias-starfish.org) an NGO aiding migrants and refugees on the Greek island of Lesvos, or Raices (https://www.raicestexas.org/) a non-profit organization offering free and low-cost legal services to underserved immigrant children, families and refugees.