By Joan F. Simoneau, Contributing Writer
Marlborough – Gregory Mitrakas Sr. was the recipient of the prestigious Melvin Jones Award for “exhibiting exemplary dedication to the cause of Lions” at the June 26 annual installation meeting. The award, named after Melvin Jones, founder of the Lions in Chicago in 1917, was given to Mitrakas for sponsoring the annual Father-Daughter Dance for the past 16 years.
More than 500 guests attended the spring event this year, an evening that grows in popularity and fun, according to newly installed Lions President John Usinas.
“The event, sponsored by the Mitrakas family is one of the most well-attended community events ever held,” he said. “Over 500 dads and daughters, 3 years old and up spend two hours dancing to the latest tunes spun by DJ Dave Cormier in the Marlborough High School cafeteria that is magically transformed into a ballroom for the evening.”
The father of five daughters and one son, Mitrakas heard of the event in 1997 and wanted to be a part of it, recalled Elizabeth Ruane, past president. “He has helped it grow and become a wonderful family event ever since,” she said.
In 2011, Mitrakas was one of three honored as Senior of the Year at the city's 35th annual Senior Dinner, hosted by then Mayor Nancy Stevens. He was chosen for his outstanding activity in the community – member of the Lions Club, service on the Board of Directors of the local Boys and Girls Club, and sponsor of several scholarships for Marlborough High School students through the Greek Orthodox Church.
He was born in Vithos, Greece, in 1921 and came to America with his family to settle in Middleborough. He and his late wife, Ferne, moved to Marlborough in 1942 and raised their family there. Mitrakas owned two grocery stores in the city and a real estate office he operated for more than 25 years.
Family members noted that Mitrakas impressed upon his children to leave the world a little better than when they arrived and strived to set an example through his charitable endeavors.