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Melia (Miley) Furgis

1930 - 2020
Melia (Miley) Furgis
Salt Lake City, Ut-Melia (Miley) Furgis, born December 22, 1930, passed away March 13, 2020, after a fulfilling and long life, at 90 years old. She was born and raised in Bingham Canyon, Utah, a melting pot of multiple nationalities, where her father Chris G. Furgis had emigrated from the Southern Peloponnese. Later, her mother Jenny (Yannoula) Karteroulis's was brought to the United States from Mystra near Sparta Greece by her aunt who later introduced her to Chris. Melia was fourth of five siblings, and she is predeceased by her siblings George C. Furgis, Olga Freddie Furgis and Stella Furgis who was deceased as a toddler, but she leaves behind her younger brother Peter C. Furgis, who dearly loved and cared for her.
Melia graduated from Bingham High School in 1949 where she was an A student and member of the Dance Club. She then went on to attend Utah State University where she majored in Dance and Physical Education and graduated in 1953. Melia was also an active member of the Chi Omega Sorority. She went on to teach at Lowell High School. After Lowell High School in 1958 she took a position at City College of San Francisco (CCSF). From 1958 through 1985, Melia was responsible for the department's Ethnic Dance Program as well as choreographing, costuming, and directing the Folk and Ballroom Dance productions.
Melia was ahead of her time in introducing, directing and producing ethnic dance and yoga productions in San Francisco. Some of her most notable accomplishments include: Artistically directing the first dance production, that incorporated a theme and slides, in the college theater in 1974; Coordinating the first department Ethnic Dance Festival production at CCSF in 1985; Establishing the course outline for the first yoga, ballroom and folkdance classes at CCSF; Organizing and arranging for the folk dance classes and ethnic groups to perform throughout the San Francisco area. Her Department Chairman said it best, "Ms. Furgis is an extremely dedicated and knowledgeable instructor. The performances she directs are always artistically exciting and entertaining. She finds great satisfaction and joy in her teaching. This joy spills over to her students and audience." A student wrote her college president and said, "Ms. Melia Furgis is an outstanding teacher of yoga. Her gracefulness in yoga postures and her graciousness as a teacher and a person, has inspired me, and others, to new heights in our lives." Melia was known for treating all students equally with an unbiased and unprejudiced way of teaching in a diverse setting. She was way ahead of her time and made great contributions to these arts.
Melia loved to travel. She crossed the Atlantic over 20 times where she studied and researched costumes in ethnic dance, and brought back costumes from Greece, Yugoslavia, Austria, Switzerland and Asia. Melia also spent time in Greece on Sabbatical where she studied ethnic Greek dance and costumes. A few years after retirement, in 1991, she moved back to Salt Lake City, to be closer to her siblings, nieces and nephews. There she took up cross country skiing, and many creative and charitable projects. She was stately, graceful, active, articulate and had a flare for fashion and accessories! Her home was creatively and perfectly appointed with eclectic items she had found around the world.
Melia was loved by all her family, friends, colleagues and students for her generosity, creativity and lively spirit. A woman of the highest integrity. She loved God, her family, friends, her work and travel.
Melia is survived by her brother Peter, nephew Chris (Kynthia), niece Karen, nephew George (Suzanne) and grandniece Ellen and grandnephews Peter, George and Michael James. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, 279 South 300 West, Salt Lake City, Utah, 84101. Due to a government mandate regarding the Coronavirus, only immediate family will be attending the funeral. Funeral Arrangements entrusted to Memorial Holladay~Cottonwood Mortuary.
Published in Salt Lake Tribune from Mar. 22 to Mar. 23, 2020
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