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Obituary for Léonidas Tsacas (1923 - 2016)

Léonidas Tsakas was born on the Greek island of Samos. His father Ilias Tsakas (1878–1948) served in the military. His mother, Dimitra Tzamazi (1889–1978) brought 5 children into the world, of whom the birth places are scattered throughout Greece.

Léonidas enrolled in military school, but neither he nor his schoolmates had the opportunity to see combat. Too young and without training, they were taken prisoner by the Germans. After the war, he left military school in order to seek a career for which he felt better suited.

He dedicated himself to his studies in Agronomy and received his engineering degree from the University of Thessaloniki in 1950.

In an Italian class, he met Yvette Prève who hailed from Crete, yet had French nationality through her father. They married in September 1955, then managed to put enough money aside to travel to France in November, where they hoped to start a new life.

While renewing their passports using the Latin alphabet, they exchanged the ‘k’ in Tsakas for the letter ‘c’.

At first, they lived in the Fondation Hellénique at the Cité Universitaire, before later moving to Vanves. Yvette had various small jobs, while Léonidas was offered a research position as an entomologist. with the CNRS. He'll become a drosophila specialist. Later, Yvette would join the CNRS as a secretary. In 1963, the couple had their son: Stéphane Tsacas.

Léonidas would see his career spent between his laboratory in Gif-sur- Yvette and the Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle à Paris. In order to collect fly specimens for his research, he would travel extensively throughout the world.

A lover of nature, reading, good friends and sweet pastries, Léonidas was known for his calm nature and cheerful disposition. 

On the 25th of October 2016, a few months after his health problems had left him in a fragile state, he left us in his 93rd year.
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