George John Christakis, MD, 92 passed away peacefully on Saturday, October 3rd, 2020 at the home of his son Deacon John Christakis, MD and daughter-in-law Stephanie in Boca Raton, Florida. He was preceded in death by his wife of 40 years, Emerald Victoria Mamangakis Christakis, whom he met while a medical student at an orthodox study class at church. Dr. George was born in New York City on April 25, 1928, the son of John and Alexandra Christakis.
“Doctor George” is survived by his son John and daughter-in-law Stephanie, his son Michael and daughter-in-law Margot, his son Paul and daughter-in-law Sophia, and his grandchildren:
George and his wife Christine, and their children John Maximos and Theodora; Jeremy; Stephan; Mark and his wife Anastasia and their children Maria Markella and Stephania; Gregory; Emerald and her husband Konstantine and their daughter Ekaterini; Peter; John Symeon; Maria Christina; Emmanuel; James; Vasilea; Alexander and his wife Laura and their children Annalise and Damian; Katia; Joanna and her husband Christopher; Luke; Georgia and her husband Peter; Constantine; and Barbara.
Dr. George was an accomplished physician, musician, professor, and medical researcher in the field of nutrition and heart disease. He attended high school at Stuyvesant in New York City, where he played violin in the orchestra and conducted. He also attended Juilliard School of Music, New York University where he received a BA, and New York Medical College where he received an MD. After one year of training in internal medicine, he worked for the Indian Health Service in South Dakota, before being called to serve in the Coast Guard as ship’s physician on the USCGC Courier off the island of Rhodes, Greece. This ship’s mission was to broadcast the Voice of America to Eastern bloc and Arabic nations. In 1960 he was awarded a Master of Science in Nutrition from Columbia University and he was awarded a Master in Public Health the following year, also from Columbia. He then became Director of the Bureau of Nutrition of the New York City Department of Health in the mid 60s. While there, he spearheaded the development of the “Prudent Diet” which later became the basis for the Weight Watchers dietary program.
Dr Christakis served as the Mount Sinai School of Medicine’s first Associate Dean for Admissions and Student Affairs.
In 1974 he moved his family from New York to Boca Raton, Florida. He was appointed Chief of the Nutrition Division of the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at the University of Miami School of Medicine, where he also served as Professor of Nutrition to the medical students and biochemistry PhD candidates. He was one of the principle investigators of “MRFIT,” a large international heart disease study.
He collaborated with his colleague Dr. Anthony Kafatos in Crete on nutrition research which established that the residents of Crete had among the lowest rates of heart disease in the world. He helped establish the medical school for the University of Crete in Iraklion. He founded a consulting firm, Nutrition and Health Horizons with his wife Emerald, a registered nurse, advising companies including Kraft, Roman Meal, the Egg Board, the President’s Council on Nutrition, Hoffman LaRoche, Metropolitan Life Insurance and Clientele. He was Medical Director of Weight Watchers International for several years, and consultant to the International Olive Oil Commission.
In addition he helped provide for the health needs of the impoverished in Ghana, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania, serving on the board of the Orthodox Christian Mission Center of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and participated in the first mission trip of this organization to East Africa in 1985. He will be remembered for his great faith and love for the Holy Orthodox Church and was an example to us all. He was inducted as an Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in 1991.
Dr. George was a founding member of Saint Mark Greek Orthodox Church in Boca Raton in the early 1980s. He was beloved by all of his family, friends, colleagues and even passing acquaintances and will be greatly missed for his kindness, generosity, wisdom and sense of humor.
Funeral service will be held for the family at Saint Mark at 1PM on Wednesday October 7th. It will be live-streamed at saintmarkboca.net by clicking on “Watch Live.” The link can be viewed at the following website:
Saint Mark Greek Orthodox Church
Boca Raton, Fl 33431
In lieu of flowers please consider donations to the following charities listed below