In Memoriam: Alec Stouras

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Alec Stouras, a department assistant for Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology, died on April 19. He was 67.

Stouras was born on January 7, 1953 in Likouria, Greece, a mountain village in the Peloponnese. His family had survived both the Nazi invasion of Greece and the Greek Civil War, and eventually emigrated to the United States when Stouras was a child. They settled in San Jose, where he began school, learned English, and became the elder brother to his sister Hilda and brother Tom. Stouras lost his mother at 16. Stouras earned a bachelor’s degree in literature from UC Berkeley, and developed into a writer himself, using this skill in the career that followed. His professional endeavors included justice and advocacy work, writing and technical writing, and administrative positions. Professional engagements included work for the California School Employees Association, Nokia, and UCSC.

Stouras’s sister-in-law Hannah Pederson, a department manager for the Art Department, introduced him to working at UC Santa Cruz, the alma mater of his wife and stepson. Stouras first worked for the Environmental Studies Department, then Cowell College, and Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology, all of which he truly enjoyed. Stouras said what he really valued were the relationships and interactions with colleagues and the students on the beautiful, forested campus. Stouras enjoyed people, and really enjoyed being helpful to others. He had also worked on the construction of the UCSC campus with his father in the early years of the university.

Stouras and his wife, Elisa Pederson Stouras (Anthropology, 1993), were constant companions, best friends, and knew themselves to be ‘lucky and blessed’ for the full, rich relationship they enjoyed. They loved the ordinariness of making a home and a life together, growing a garden and nurturing their children and grandchild. They loved most to be in the high mountains of the Sierra Nevada together, sharing in the piercing, harsh, freshness of the high country, penetrated by the silence and the indescribable beauty of the sacred places. They called the mountains their Cathedral.

Friends and family said Stouras was a poet and a lover of the sacred. He was a self-disciplined seeker with a mythopoetic imagination and a voracious intellect that stored great accumulations of knowledge in literature, film, theatre, music, poetry, art, the sciences, health, politics, religion, mythology, archetypal and Jungian psychology, Buddhism, meditation, and biodynamic gardening, which he studied at UCSC. He was an accomplished fencer, equestrian, runner, weight lifter, backpacker, cross country skier and expert baseball enthusiast. He loved to cook Greek foods. Olive oil, garlic, lemon and oregano were always involved. Stouras possessed a humor and wit that were sharp and at the ready, his levity gracing others with pleasure and laughter.

Stouras is survived by his wife, Elisa Pederson Stouras; his daughter, Gabriella Marie Stouras, and son, John Alec Stouras, stepson Zeya Nahadeh Schindler (Literature, 2007), and grandson, Bodhi Goldfeld Schindler.