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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

Former ODU Board of Visitors Member Michael Savvides Dies

By Joe Garvey

Michael Christopher Savvides, who served on Old Dominion Universities Board of Visitors for eight years, died on Nov. 6.

Savvides, who was born in Cyprus, Greece, in 1930, served on the BOV from 1978 to 1986. He chaired the Buildings and Grounds Committee for six years and was a member of the Executive and Education Committees.

Savvides emigrated to the United States when he was 17 and completed his education at St. Edwards University in Austin, Texas, and the Norfolk Division of the College of William & Mary, today's Old Dominion University. He was a member of Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society of ODU.He became a U.S. citizen in 1958.

As a Virginia Beach resident, he started a lifelong career as a restauranteur when he expanded the Black Angus restaurant from Norfolk to Virginia Beach. He served as president of the Virginia Beach and the Virginia restaurant associations.

He also owned and operated the Ramada Inn Oceanfront for several decades and was elected to the National Executive Board of Ramada Inn National Association. He also served the Virginia and the American Hotel and Motel Association. He was integral in the formation of the Virginia Hospitality and Travel Association and served an 11-year term and remains an honorary board member for life with the National Restaurant Association.

He was active in the community. He reigned as King Neptune XII in 1985. He presided over or served on the boards of countless local institutions in addition to ODU: the Advisory Council of Tidewater Community College, Virginia Beach Vocational School, Virginia Beach Arts and Conference Center, Mayor's Clean Community Commission, Virginia Beach Personnel Board, Mayor's Committee for Economic Development, the United Way, the Heart Fund, the American Cancer Society, the Virginia Beach Marine Science Museum, the Virginia Wetlands Board, the Neptune Festival, Virginia Beach Events Unlimited, the Virginia Beach Christian Outreach Group, the Virginia Beach Chamber of Commerce, the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce, Humana Bayside Hospital, the Jaycees, Commerce Bank, the Bank of Virginia, and Towne Bank.

As a life member of the Virginia Jaycees, he received the group's Distinguished Service Award in 1965 and was named to the 100 Outstanding Young Men of America by the U.S. Jaycees in 1967. In 1982, he received the First Citizen of Virginia Beach Award. In 1983, the Daughters of the American Revolution presented him with the Americanism Medal. This medal is only presented to foreign-born naturalized citizens of the United States. In 1987, he was presented with the Brotherhood Citation of the National Conference of Christians and Jews for his devotion and service to religious institutions and causes as well as his humanitarian service as a leader and worker on behalf of civic, cultural, educational and welfare organizations.

Savvides was also an active Mason and member of the Khedive Shrine Temple in Norfolk. A past president of the Virginia Beach Shriners, he was elected to the Court of Jesters in 1996.

He also served his church. He was president of the Parish Council of Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Norfolk and a founding member of the Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Virginia Beach, where he served three terms as president of the parish council. He was a member of the Diocesan Council of the Greek Orthodox Diocese of New Jersey, the League of Greek Orthodox Stewards, and an inductee into the Order of St. Andrew the Apostle. Always remembering his love of his homeland, Cyprus, he served as president of the Cyprus Benevolent Society, vice president of the Cyprus Federation of America, member of the American Hellenic Institute, AHEPA Cyprus and Hellenic Affairs Committee and the AHEPA Board of Governors. From 1987-1990 he served as national chairman of the Cyprus and Hellenic Committee and received the "Living the Life" award from the Hellenic Charities of Virginia in 2014.

He is survived by his wife of 59 years, Gypsy; daughter Anastasia Savvides Nelson and her husband Chris Nelson and children Angela and husband Matt Fennell, Rebecca and fiancé Max Jackson, Michael and Sarah; son Christopher Savvides and wife Kellson; and daughter Alexandra Savvides Stalcup and husband Brett Stalcup and children Alexandra and Anastasia Dylan. He is predeceased by his brother Savvas of Nicosia, Cyprus, and survived by his nephews Christoforos Savvides, George Savvides and niece Anastasia Savvidou, and many family members in Cyprus.

His funeral service will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 12, at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral, 7220 Granby St., Norfolk, with Fr. George Bessinas officiating. Burial will follow in Forest Lawn Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you consider a memorial donation to the Shriners Hospital for Children. Donations can be made online at donate.lovetotherescue.org. Online condolences may be sent through www.hdoliver.com.

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