Homer Theodore Mantis, 98, formerly of St. Anthony Park, died peacefully in his home at Westwood Ridge in St. Paul, Jan. 16. His wife of 67 years, Marianthi (Mary) Sebekos, died in 2009.
Mantis was born in Reading, Pa. His father, Constantine, a first-generation Greek immigrant, owned the Crystal, a popular restaurant in Reading.
He was the first in his family to attend college. He received his undergraduate degree from Lehigh University and a Ph.D. in physics in 1951 from New York University.
Dr. Mantis was the forecaster at the Army Air Force weather station at New York University and, during World War II, he taught meteorology to prospective Army Air Force pilots.
In 1950, he joined the University of Minnesota as professor of meteorological physics, which he taught until 1989. He was a popular and respected teacher who prepared carefully for his lectures and used the lab to create props to demonstrate the principals of physics and to make the study more interesting.
In the 1980s, the Academy of Athens recognized his distinguished contributions in the field of physics by electing him to life membership. He and Mary spent many summers in Athens while Homer researched and collected data on climatology.
Dr. Mantis continued to study and analyze gamma rays into his late 80s. Many of his students, both in Minnesota and in Greece, have gone on to teach physics or to perform research. In the 1960s and ’70s, Homer actively participated in local organizations committed to returning the Greek government to civilian control after being taken over by the military junta. Later, he supported efforts to end the Turkish military invasion of Cyprus.
Homer will be remembered as a kind, quiet, peaceful man and a dedicated scientist. He was loved by his family and friends and respected by his colleagues. He is survived by his four children: John (Sarah) of Taos, N.M.; William (Chris Trost) of St. Paul; Daphne Mantis of Springfield, Ore.; and Katina Johnstone of Staten Island, N.Y.; five grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.
A celebration of life will be held Sunday, July 10, 2-5 pm at the Battle Creek Park Shelter in St. Paul. Family and friends are invited to share their personal memories at 3:30 pm.