During the early years of the Greek community, there were several Greek doctors that had a profound impact on the community. This article highlights the biographies and achievements of four doctors;  Dr. John Tavlopoulos, Dr. John Lephakis, Dr. Emmanuel Apostolides, and Dr. Christos Abramopoulos.

Dr. John Nicholas Tavlopoulos, c. 1912
San Francisco Chronicle, January 16, 1915

Dr. John Tavlopoulos (7/26/1882 - 10/20/1963) was from Pyrgos, Greece.  Dr. Tavlopoulos studied medicine at the University of Athens and graduated 12/20/1902. He later became a surgeon in the Greek army and wrote articles for the Athens Medical Journal.

Dr Tavlopoulos was the first Greek doctor to pass the California state medical exams (12/22/1911). For sixteen years, his office was located in the center of the 3rd Street Greek community. There was not a doctor that treated more Greek immigrants. From 1916 – 1933,  his office was at 696 Mission Street (corner 3rd and Mission streets).  During the 1920s,  Dr. Tavlopoulos served as an associate physician at St. Mary's Hospital, Hayes & Stanyan streets. By 1939, he moved his office to 870 Market Street. By 1955, he moved his office to 700 Market Street. By 1959, his office was at 317 Phelan Building. From 1917 - 1963, he lived at 1185 Valencia Street in the Mission district.

Dr. Tavlopoulos' wife and partner was Dr. Lillie Louise Koerber (2/24/1879 - 7/22/1959). She graduated from San Francisco's Cooper Medical College in 1901. She spent her career working as a physician and surgeon. She was a member of the California Organization of Women Physicians for Federal Recognition and was listed in Who's Who Among Women in California in 1922.

Dr. Koerber was strong willed and independent.  Her personal life was unconventional by Victorian era standards. She adopted a child on her own. She was always listed as head of household, remained unmarried into her seventies, and brought up the girl she adopted on her own. Her medical license was suspended for two years in 1943 for performing illegal abortions.

Dr. Tavlopoulos' older brother George settled in Stockton working on various farms until he passed away in 1952.  Dr. Tavlopoulos, George Tavlopoulos, and Dr. Koerber were interred at Greek Orthodox Memorial Park in Colma (see photo).


Dr. John Lephakis, c. 1912
San Francisco Chronicle, January 16, 1915

Dr. John Lephakis was a distinguished surgeon, his practice at 233 Post Street, a member of the medical staff of the French Hospital. Dr. Lephakis was graduated in 1899 from the medical department of the University of Athens, Greece; took post-graduate work in the University of Paris until 1901, and subsequently served two years as a surgeon in the Greek army. In 1902-1903 Dr. Lephakis was coroner of Athens, and afterward practiced there as a member of the Polyclinic staff until 1907. In this year he started a period of traveling which, in 1912, brought him to San Francisco. He was a member of the Masonic order and belonged to several Greek organizations. 

Dr. Lephakis married (wife: Edith) and lived at 706 13th (Funston) Avenue.  However, Dr. Lephakis' life ended tragically. His body was found August 30, 1918 on Crystal Springs Road in San Mateo. There was a nickel plated revolver by his side.  After an investigation, the death was ruled a suicide. Dr. Lephakis left an estate worth $40,000 to his wife. 

He was interred at Cypress Lawn Cemetery in Colma. 


Dr. Emmanuel P. Apostolides, c. 1918

Dr. Emmanuel Panagiotis Apostolides (11/24/1879 - 6/16/1961), was born in Tsataldja, Turkey (Greek: Τσατάλτζα).

Apostolides immigrated to Romania in 1898 and in the following year immigrated to the United States in 1899. He lived in New York for one year prior to moving to Santa Rosa, CA.  In 1902, he opened the Court House restaurant with M. Stavrakes at 310-312 Mendocino Street in Santa Rosa.  He was living at 422A Fourth Street. By 1904, he became the owner of the restaurant. His brother Constantine immigrated to the United States in 1904, traveled to Santa Rosa, and worked in the restaurant.   In 1906, the restaurant was sold and his brother Constantine moved to Santa Barbara, CA.

He was naturalized in 1906 after living in the United States for seven years. He was issued a US passport in Santa Rosa on 2/23/1906 and traveled back to see his family as a US citizen. He listed his profession as caterer.

When Apostolides returned to the United States in 1908, he opened a restaurant in Santa Rosa with Constantine Athanasiou at 433 4th Street.  His residence was at 412 Humboldt street.

About 1910, he decided to change careers and become a doctor. He entered Loyola University School in Chicago and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree. He then entered Loyola University Medical School. He graduated in 1915 and then was a appointed medical chemist at a Chicago hospital. IN the following year he was appointed medical doctor for the department of infectious diseases. In November 1918, Dr. Apostolides started his medical practice in San Francisco at the Phelan Building at 760 Market Street. In 1922, he moved his practice to 995 Market Street (Market & 6th Streets, the current site of the David Hewes building built in 1962). He remained there until he retired.

Dr. Apostolides married Alexandra M. Mandilla (8/6/1897 - 7/26/1996) in 1922. Alexandra was educated at the University of California Berkeley. 

Alexandra M. Mandilla Cal Berkeley Yearbook Photographs, 1920 (left), 1922 (right).

Dr. Apostolides and Alexandra had three children; Alexander (11/29/1923 - 9/27/2005), Zoe Antigone (1/20/1927), and Cleo (6/5/1931). The Apostolides family from 1925 on lived a 743 6th Avenue in the Richmond district.

Dr. Apostolides was a member of several Greek organizations and a devoted member of Ahepa. He served as an officer in the Army Reserves.  In November 1929, Alexandra founded the Daughters of Penelope in San Francisco. In 1931, she became the first Grand President.  Under Alexandra's leadership, the Daughters of Penelope grew into a worldwide organization.

After her husband's passing in 1961,  Alexandra married Howard Sonenfeld on 1/27/1964. She was 66 years old and her husband was 49.  The couple settled in California.


Dr. Christos Abramopoulos, 1920s

The historical society gratefully acknowledges the Abramopoulos family for sharing family photographs with us (see photo album).

Dr. Christos Abramopoulos (4/10/1887 - 11/26/1960) immigrated to the United States from Sabanaga, Ilias, Greece in 1904. He initially settled in Kansas City, MO.

While in Kansas City he worked at a pharmacy while studying for his pharmacy degree. After receiving his pharmacy degree, he entered medical school and graduated in 1913.  He took exams before the Kansas State Medical Board, received a unanimous decision, and was granted a medical license.

From 1914 - 1916, he held a staff position at the public hospital in Kansas City specializing in Pathology and Surgery. He was physically fit and athletic and was a member of the National Guard. When the United States joined World War I he enlisted and was deployed at Fort Riley, Kansas. In August 1918, the army sent him to France to serve in a surgical unit for one year. In 1919, Dr. Abramopoulos was honorably discharged from the army as a captain and he decided to settle in San Francisco. His brother Joseph joined him.

In June 1919, Dr. Abramopoulos established a successful medical practice at the Phelan building at 760 Market Street.  Dr. Abramopoulos was very well known within the Greek community and was a member of several Greek organizations. He was elected president of the Greek American Legion of the First World War.

Dr. Abramopoulos married Catherine Kaplanis May 1, 1921 (see Kaplanis family photos) and they purchased a home at 886 25th Avenue in the Richmond district.

The couple had four children; Athene (2/6/1922 - 9/22/1988), Andrew (5/8/1923 - 10/8/1991),  George (4/14/1925 - 1/4/1981) and Aristomenis - Arthur (1/8/1930). Their son Arthur would later change his last name to Andreas and become a prominent lawyer in San Francisco.  Their daughter Athene would later marry Basil N. Plastiras, a Certified Public Accountant in San Francisco.

Dr. Abramopoulos enlisted during World War II and served at a military hospital. Dr. Abramopoulos retired from the army as Lt. Colonel.  Their sons Andrew, George, and Arthur all served in the military.

Dr. Abramopoulos and his wife Catherine were interred at the San Francisco National Cemetery.

Questions regarding this article? Please contact the historical society by email, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Contents copyright : Jim Lucas & Greek Historical Society of the San Francisco Bay Area