Note:  While reading this article, please refer to the Mount Olivet Virtual Photo Album on this web site.

The Orthodox faith has had a presence in San Francisco since at least 1857, and the first Russian Orthodox Church was founded in 1868.  In those early years burials of the Orthodox faithful were done at the Yerba Buena Cemetery, the City Cemetery, and Laurel Hill Cemetery.

In 1884, the Greco - Russian community purchased land for a cemetery which was called the "Greek Cemetery."  The boundaries of the cemetery was Turk Street to the North, Golden Gate Avenue to the South, Parker Street to the East, and North Willard street to the West. Half of the cemetery is on property currently owned by the University of San Francisco.

In 1893, the Greek cemetery was closed to make room for new homes. By 1894, the bodies were moved to the Golden Gate (City) Cemetery, the present day site of Lincoln Golf Course.  When cemeteries were eventually closed in San Francisco all burials were done at cemeteries in Colma except for Greeks who were military veterans that wished to be buried at the Presidio National Cemetery.

When Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church was founded in 1904, the Greek community wanted to establish a relationship with a cemetery in Colma.  The Greek community chose Olivet Memorial Park in Colma. Olivet Memorial Park was incorporated June 11, 1895 as Mount Olivet Cemetery.  On April 5, 1929, the name was changed to Olivet Memorial Park.

The community purchased a group of plots in section Myrtle as early as 1907. That area became known as the "Greek plot." After the Greek plot in section Myrtle was filled, Greeks purchased a significant number of plots in section L. Olivet Memorial Park became the primary cemetery for Greek burials until Greek Orthodox Memorial Park was founded in 1934 by the Doukas family in Colma.

Visiting the Greek sections of Olivet Memorial Park is like taking a glimpse at the first wave of Greek immigrants that came to the San Francisco Bay Area. You will notice that many died before the age of 50. There were many children.  In this era there were no antibiotics.  Tuberculosis, pneumonia, and influenza were the most common forms of death.

The majority of the grave stones are in Greek which reflects the language preference of families during those early years.  As time passed, English became the preferred language. In some instances you will see the use of English and Greek letters.

It is easy to identify Greek grave sites when there is a grave marker.  We have photographed all of them. However, at Olivet there are Greek grave sites that do not have a marker. There were Greek immigrants that could not afford the cost.  The historical society was able to identify 38 unmarked Greek graves at Olivet. We believe that there are more. However, rules and restrictions regarding privacy do not permit us to examine burial records.

Some notable members of the Greek community buried at Olivet Memorial Park:

Cherolis, Anthony -  Holy Trinity's master candle maker. He was awarded the medal of Saint Paul for his many years of service to the Holy Trinity parish and the Greek Orthodox Church.

Condos, George -  A 1911 murder victim and an integral figure in the Paulos Prantikos murder case.

Georgopoulos, Panagiotis -  One of Holy Trinity's founders and a successful business owner.

Jerome, Amanda -  John Jerome's first wife and Alexander Kosta's eldest daughter.

Jerome, Daisy -  John Jerome's second wife. After her husband's passing, Mrs. Jerome became known for her philanthropic activities within the Greek community.

Jerome (Petrolekkas), John -  The noted strikebreaker, real estate investor, and entrepreneur.

Julius, John - Owner of Los Angeles Candy Kitchen and a Greek community leader.

Kappatos, Dimitrios - He was the President of the Hellenic Liberal League and owner of the Almond Blossom restaurant.

Kosta, Alexander - One of Holy Trinity's founders. His autobiography, "Episodes in One Man's Life," provides the only written account as to how Holy Trinity was founded.  He served as the president of several Greek organizations.

Markoulis (Markoulakis), Evangelos - A successful businessman. His mausoleum, which can be seen from Hillside Boulevard, is the largest Greek mausoleum in the San Francisco Bay Area. It has a traditional Greek design.

Mavrelis, Father George - A priest from the Tousla district of Constantinople that had to leave his home due to the 1922 Turkish Offensive in Smyrna. He was a political refugee.

Milonas, John - A successful businessman and St. Sophia/Annunciation founder.

Papageorge - Palladius, George - Co-founder of the Prometheus Greek language newspaper.

Pavellas, Alexander -  He served as acting Greek Consul and was the co-founder of the Eirenikos and Prometheus Greek language newspapers.

Sarris, Christos - A successful businessman and St. Sophia/ Annunciation founder.

Sopotinos, Nicholas - A successful grocery market owner on Valencia street. He had an affair with a married woman which led to him committing a highly publicized murder - suicide in 1912.

Tsapralis, Constantine (Benjamin) - Holy Trinity's first priest. A short autobiography of his life can be found here.

Varvares, Emmanuel -  A 1908 murder victim. Owner of the Point Lobos Chop House and a 55 year old native of Samos. He had no family in the United States.  He was included in a history of the Sutro Baths area.

Velissaratos, Dimitrios - A successful businessman. He served as president of the Hellenic Mutual Benevolent Society and Pan Hellenic Union.

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