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Xenophon Zapis

Xenophon Zapis

A handsome lad of 15, blessed with a winning smile and a will to succeed." That's how Xenophon "Xen" Zapis was described in a newspaper article announcing the Cleveland Exchange Club's annual Gold Deeds Award in 1941. You'd be hard-pressed to find a more apt description of Xen. He was born in 1926 to Louis and Mary Hazapis who had immigrated to Cleveland in the early 1920s. Zapis liked to joke that he was born in left field of Progressive Field because that was where the Greek and Syrian neighborhood was located in the '20s. Zapis' parents instilled in him a desire to succeed and the work ethic needed to achieve success, a trait he passed on to his children and grandchildren. From an early age, Xen was always finding ways to support his mother, Danny and himself. After his father passed away when Xen was only 14 years old, he did every job imaginable to help his mother, as did his brother Danny. A kind hearted and generous spirit, Xen served as a father figure to many – offering excellent advice with a unique and clever delivery. Early in his life, he exhibited the leadership skills that would fuel his success. He was a president of Boys Town and president of his senior class at John Hay High School. After graduating from high school, he was drafted into the United States Army. Upon receiving an honorable discharge from the Army in 1947, Xen returned to Cleveland where he enrolled in Fenn College. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration and in 1954 he earned his Juris Doctorate (JD) from Cleveland Marshall College of Law. In 1949, while working fulltime and attending law school, Xen began producing and hosting a Greek radio program, a wise and impactful decision. And in 1952 he made the most important and best decision in his life by asking Smaragda "Lula" Petrakis to marry him. They married in 1952, and the new Mrs. Zapis became co-host of the Greek Radio Program and Xen's lifelong partner. While building his law practice Xen and Lula continued to host the Greek radio program. In 1962 Zapis and three partners launched WZAK. The station's format featured various ethnic programs including Xen and Lula's Greek radio program. For the next 19 years Xen and Lula hosted the Greek Program, tuned into by much of the local Greek community seeking to stay current on news from Greece as well as their local Greek-American community. By 1980 Xen had become the majority owner of WZAK. The following year Xen, along with his children Maria and Lee, changed the format of WZAK to urban contemporary. That began a consistent rise to the top of the radio ratings in Cleveland. Over the years Zapis Communications-owned stations in Atlanta, Boston, Akron, and Youngstown and had won many national awards. When the company was sold in 1999 it was part of the largest radio deal in Cleveland history. Zapis was also an active real estate developer and an early proponent of assisted living facilities. He built one of the first assisted living facilities on the west side of Cleveland. He developed many apartment buildings and other residential projects during his career. He cofounded WXZ Development, one of Northeast Ohio's premier developers of multi-family housing. Throughout his career, Zapis has served on various boards including the Ohio Association of Broadcasters. He was also a past president of the Apartment and Home Owners Association, the Exchange Club, the Cleveland chapter of the American Hellenic Education Progressive Association (AHEPA) and the Parish Council of St. Demetrios in Rocky River, Ohio and St. Katherine in Naples, Florida. In 2007, Xen and Lula led the campaign and created the Zapis Activity Center at St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church in Rocky River, Ohio. In 1993 he received the Award for Excellence by the Cleveland Association of Broadcasters. He was nominated as an Entrepreneur of the Year by E&Y in 1995. He is also a recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor and was named an Archon of the Greek Orthodox Church. Xen and Lula Zapis established the Zapis Family Charitable Foundation in 1999 to support various charitable organizations in Northeast Ohio. Excellence in broadcasting and Philanthropy were a part of his DNA. 

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