Dr. Leonidas Sarakatsannis, UCF’s first piano professor, died on April 9th, but his memory lives on in the students he inspired. He was part of UCF’s Charter Class of professors in 1968, and was also a composer and conductor.
But the professor’s accomplishments weren’t just in the classroom. Dr. Sarakatsannis was a member of Who’s Who in America, the Marquis Who’s Who in the World, and performed solo piano recitals throughout the U.S. and abroad. Locally, he played for the Florida Symphony Orchestra, the predecessor for the Orlando Philharmonic.
Dr. Sarakatsannis is remembered as a charismatic teacher. “He taught theory, and several of us remember his can of sourballs candy sitting on the piano. Sometimes when we got an answer right, we could take a sourball from the can,” said Jan Crews, who studied with Dr. Sarakatsannis from ’69-’71.
“He was deeply admired, dearly loved, and will be greatly missed,” said Crews.