The Genesis of the Hellenic Professional Society of Texas – by George C. Blytas

One could say that during the 60’s “all the action” was in California, and particularly in the Bay Area, which means San Francisco, Berkeley and Oakland, an area and a decade that people are still talking about four decades later. By the same token, the 70′ s were a decade in which Texas, and especially Houston, became the center of international attention, particularly after the oil crisis of 1972, which saw the price of oil go up ten-fold in a period of few weeks. Houston, already the center of space exploration and technology, in the 70’s became an important center for the internationally critical energy industry; and since then, it has also become a major hub for the medical industry.  As a result of those developments, in the 70’s the Greek- American community of Houston witnessed  the arrival of a significant number of scientists and other professionals who were first generation Greeks. One of the families that arrived in Houston in the early 70’s was my family: my wife Cora Ann, my son Constantine, and myself.

Although the writer was already a member of AHEPA, the oldest and largest Greek- American organization, and still is, several of the technically oriented new arrivals felt the need to add a new dimension to the Hellenicity of Houston and bring into Texas more of the present day cultural Greek component; an updating, if you will, of what AHEPA had accomplished fifty years earlier under far more adverse conditions. The result was the HPST.

The idea to form an organization with that name and orientation crystallized in the period May – June, 1974, and was the result of our experience in Berkeley-San Francisco, where we lived from 1961 to 1972 and where we enjoyed our membership in the culturally vibrant Hellenic Professional Society of the Bay Area. The constitution of the HPST is an adaptation of the constitution of the Californian organization, with certain adjustments made to better fit our needs. The membership of the organization quickly increased, and many of our second generation Greek- American friends joined us.

The first executive committee of the HPST were the author of this note as president; John Vogiatzis as vice-president, Costas Michalopoulos as treasurer, Periklis Ktonas as recording  secretary, Alkiviadis Payatakis as corresponding secretary, and Tassos Karambelas  and Anthony Kouzounis as counselors. The assistance of Mr. Kouzounis in the launching of the HPST cannot be overemphasized. In many instances he showed us the ropes, even though his prime allegiance was, and still is, in the AHEPA family, of which he reached the highest position during the last year.  The author was re-elected president for the second year, 1976, and was followed by the late Alkis Payatakis, who also initiated the scholarship program during his presidency.

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