Melpomeni B. Shamos

PORTLAND – Melpomeni peacefully fell into eternal sleep in her beloved home, on Sept. 15, 2021.

“Melpo” (as she liked to be called) lived an extraordinary 94 years. She was born in the Greek village of Politsani on Easter morning to the delight of her father who considered this a very auspicious sign. Indeed she was lucky, catching the last ship out of Greece to America at the age of 13, before WWII broke loose. Nazis boarded their ship, before she landed in New York City not knowing a word of English. As a resilient girl, she learned to read from her schoolmate and her younger brother, Nick. Her first job was at Woolworth’s on 49th and 8th. She also worked at one of America’s first “fast food” automats. She recalled fond memories of New York City including the Rockefeller “skating pond”, Central Park, and ogling dresses at Macy’s on 7th Avenue.

The family moved to St. Louis to live with her father’s aunt and uncle. While the war raged on, she cherished her girlfriends who worked with her in a dress factory, too young to make arms, but old enough to roam independently, often frequenting a relative’s movie theatre.

In a culture of arranged marriages, Melpo’s aunt planned her marriage to the neighbor’s son, but Melpo’s independent nature had other ideas. She spotted her handsome future husband at a cousin’s wedding, and was soon engaged to Stavros Shamos, also born in Politsani. They married in Portland and she remained on Vannah Avenue for 75 years, married for 66 years. They worked hard, owning the Quality Shop on Stevens Avenue and tending to their three children, relatives, and Greek community. Retiring early, Melpo and Steve wintered in Florida for over 30 years, traveled throughout Europe and back to their beloved Politsani 26 years ago.

The name, Melpomeni, means to “celebrate with dance and song”, and this is what she thrived on. Melpo was the ultimate hostess, whether cooking for hoards of people at “name day” parties, welcoming drop-ins with Greek coffee and pastries, or creating family holiday feasts, especially Orthodox Easter. Her home was filled with traditions, celebrations, love, and tons of food.

Melpo was also known for her advice – both solicited and unsolicited. She often would say, “If everyone would just listen to me, their lives would be much better.” Her medical advice based in science and village wisdom was usually right on. She said if she had “grown up in another time and place” she would have become a doctor … or a physicist!

She loved her flower garden, which she could toil in for 10 hours at a time. Fashion and shopping were part of her personality — the more glam and glitter, the better. She would often sew two dresses in one night, proudly hanging them on the twins’ bedroom door in the morning. When traveling as a family, she insisted on staged “selfie” pictures, before that was a thing.

Melpo was a voracious reader throughout her life. She was a huge advocate for immigration rights and could be spotted downtown in her 90s, with her protest signs. Her curiosity, openness to change, and drive for perfection made her a fascinating, opinionated companion.

Melpomene, was also the “muse of tragedy”. The death of her daughter, Marie, was the most tragic time of Melpo’s life. While many would become more closed and resentful after losing a child, Melpo became softer and more open in her grief. She surrendered to living in moments of joy. In her last days, she profoundly stated, “You have to let go, to get to somewhere new.”

Melpomeni is survived by her son, Michael Shamos and his partner Amy Stackhouse, her daughter, Elaine Shamos and her partner, Glenn Simpson; her grandchildren Thane Gaylor, Carrie Shamos, Elias Shamos, Leah Lykos, Andrew Shamos, Theanna Twitchell, Alex Gaylor, Noah Twitchell; her six great-grandchildren; her brother, Nicholas Boufides and his wife, Truly; her son-in-law, Jeff Twitchell; and her beloved nieces, nephews, cousins, and extended family.

Her husband, Stavros; her daughter, Marie; and her sister, Persophone, predeceased her.

A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 23 at Jones, Rich, and Barnes Funeral Home, 199 Woodford St., Portland, where a reception will follow. Burial will be at Forest City Cemetery. Masks and proof of vaccination or negative 48-hour COVID test are required.

Please visit http://www.jonesrichandbarnes.com to sign Melpomeni’s online guest book.

Donations may be made to the

Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church,

133 Pleasant St,

Portland, ME 04101.

Melpomeni B. Shamos

Guest Book