Greek immigrant, cafe owner turns 102

Published June 9, 2006

Marie A. Kavakos, a native of Greece who has lived in Tampa since 1929, celebrated her 102nd birthday on Sunday (June 4, 2006).

The matriarch of five generations was a young immigrant from Sparta, Greece, who took pride in her U.S. citizenship.

Mrs. Kavakos worked hard and became a successful businesswoman, owning the Post Office Cafe in downtown Tampa from the 1920s to the 1940s. She fed many soldiers stationed at MacDill Air Force Base and Drew Fields for free because they were away from home and she felt they were kindred spirits.

She was active in the Eastern Star fraternal organization, the American Legion Auxiliary and Philoptochos, a charitable group linked to the Greek Orthodox Church in America.

She is the oldest member of St. John's Greek Orthodox Church in South Tampa.

She lived in Old Hyde Park for many years but now resides at John Knox Village in North Tampa.

Family and friends call her Yia Yia, Greek for grandmother.