George Papageorgiou: Longtime football coach played on Huskies’ 1978 Rose Bowl team

George Papageorgiou
7/5/56 – 5/18/24

George Papageorgiou, 67, of Kansas City, KS, died unexpectedly on Saturday, May 18, 2024. He was born on July 5, 1956, in Seattle, WA, to Michael and Vera (Coltos) Papageorgiou. He is survived by Michelle (Duskin) Papageorgiou whom he married on June 6, 1987. George and Michelle have four beautiful daughters, Alyssa Papageorgiou of Overland Park, KS, Nicole Papageorgiou of Kansas City, MO, Lauren Papageorgiou and Mikaela Papageorgiou, both of Seattle, WA. He is also survived by his sisters Marina Landis (Sky, Michael, and Mitchell Landis) of Maple Valley, WA, and Nicole Papageorgiou (Mark Todd) of Yakima, WA.

George earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington, where he played under head coach Don James. After four years as fullback in the Husky Program, that included a trip to the ‘78 Rose Bowl, he served as a graduate assistant coach with the Huskies that resulted in trips to the ‘79 Sun Bowl, the ‘80 and ‘81 Rose Bowls, and the ‘82 Aloha Bowl as assistant defensive line coach. Pops was head JV coach for two seasons at University of Washington before joining the coaching staff at the College of Eastern Utah and Lewis and Clark College. George earned his Master’s in Health Education while also coaching at Portland State University in Portland, OR in 1987.

In 1988, George joined the coaching staff of Pacific University in Forest Grove, OR, and from 1992-94 he served as an assistant coach for Willamette University in Salem, OR. In 1995, George accepted the head coaching position at Bethel College in North Newton, KS. He was named Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference Coach of the Year in 1996. In the 2000 season, George found a home as the Assistant Head Football Coach at Benedictine College in Atchison, KS, where he remained until his death.

While at Benedictine, George was a crucial part of their success, earning multiple Heart of America Athletic Conference championships, multiple trips to the NAIA national playoffs, and an appearance in the 2018 NAIA National Championship game in Daytona, FL. In 2018, he was named Heart of America North Assistant Coach of the Year. In 2022, George was named the NAIA Assistant Football Coach of the Year by the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA). Most recently, George was recognized for his 35-years of leadership and impact with the AFCA.

Coach Pops’ influence extends far beyond wins and losses, tackles and touchdowns, awards and accolades. Pops was a player’s coach, whose primary goal was turning young men into the best versions of themselves, both on and off the field. He was a gifted recruiter adept at recognizing talent and potential that others often overlooked. Through his teaching, encouragement and support, thousands of players – including those with disadvantaged backgrounds – found success on the field and after graduation. Pops was also a coach’s coach — fiercely competitive and passionate on the sidelines, offering brilliant and informed strategies in the meeting room, and often spending the night in the office so he could be the first one to greet fellow coaches and players as they prepared for their next opponent. But most importantly, off the field, George was a loving and dedicated husband and father. He had the kindest and most generous heart along with a passion for great storytelling and an ever-present smile. He loved his wife and daughters deeply, and his fellow coaches were not just colleagues, but family.

He embodied a deep connection to his Greek heritage, instilling a great appreciation for his family to emulate. He ingrained a respect for diversity, relentless fortitude, and the importance of teamwork — the same wisdom he inspired in his players every season.

Pops was coaching a youth high school football camp on the day of his passing, sharing his passion for and knowledge of the sport he loved to the end. The ripples from his extraordinary life will be felt for generations to come.

In lieu of flowers or monetary gifts, his family has asked for those so inclined to donate to the George Papageorgiou Offensive Line Scholarship so his football legacy may continue to live on through the lives of Benedictine College student athletes.

A Funeral Service will be held May 31, 1:30 p.m. at Holy Apostles Greek Orthodox Church, 19421 Ashworth Ave N. Shoreline, WA 98133.

  1. So sorry to hear this. I went to high school with George (Mike). I was looking forward to seeing him at our upcoming 50th reunion. I wanted to talk with him about a particular memory and I don’t remember seeing him at reunions since we graduated. Maybe he was there are I just missed him. We had a very large class. Anyway, what I remember was he played football in high school and was determined enough that he played as a walk on at the UW. I was at, or perhaps watching TV during his final game as a Husky. I don’t believe he had played in games up to that point but had stuck it out all four, and maybe five years at the UW as a walk on. It was either the second to last play, or perhaps the last play of the game and he was sent in as a fullback. The whole team went crazy and you could tell what an inspiration he had been to the team. He was given the ball and made about three yards I think. Again, the team went crazy for him. What an inspiration and obviously, he made a great career out of football and coaching. I hope my memory is accurate. It’s been a long time. RIP George (Mike)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Real first and last names — as well as city of residence — are required for all commenters.
This is so we can verify your identity before approving your comment.

By commenting here you agree to abide by our Code of Conduct. Please read our code at the bottom of this page before commenting.