George Lionakis, a prominent Sacramento architect who was an influential leader in the building industry, died Friday of health problems related to age, his family said. He was 87.
Mr. Lionakis left his mark on projects that served the public as the Sacramento region grew after World War II. He was involved in designing the Sacramento County Administration Center, the Sacramento Bee and Cosumnes River College buildings. He worked on many projects for Rio Linda Union School District, Pacific Bell and Air Force bases in California and other states.
He spent 37 years at one of Sacramento's top architecture firms, which was started in 1909 by California's first state architect, George Sellon. Known as Cox, Liske and Associates when he joined in 1954, the name changed over time to Lionakis Beaumont Design Group.
He rose to general manager and led the midtown-based company to many design awards. In 2009, the company formally changed its name to Lionakis.
"George had an innate ability to listen to what clients were saying and draw out what their needs were so that when the project was completed, it hit the mark," Lionakis President Tim Fry said. "He was the sharpest architect I've ever known."
Mr. Lionakis, who won five national awards for specification writing, was active in professional groups. He was a past president of the Sacramento Builders Exchange and local chapters of the Construction Specifications Institute and the American Institute of Architects. He served on the Sacramento County Building Board of Appeals and contributed to tests administered by the California State Board of Architectural Examiners.
"George is definitely an icon in our business," said Jim Lambert, executive vice president of the Sacramento Regional Builders Exchange. "He added so much to the professionalism of the industry."
A son of Greek immigrants, Mr. Lionakis was born in 1924 in West Hiawatha, Utah, to a coal miner and homemaker who raised four children.
He served as an Air Force navigator in the Pacific theater during World War II and earned an architecture degree from University of Oregon in 1951.
He had a daughter with his wife of 60 years, Iva. He was a past president of East Sacramento Rotary Club and an avid golfer and past president of North Ridge Country Club.
Mr. Lionakis remained professionally active after he retired from his firm in 1991. He volunteered as a construction consultant for a remodeling project at North Ridge Country Club and the construction of St. Katherine Greek Orthodox Church in Elk Grove.
"The uniquely identifying personality characteristic of George was he was always upfront and honest," said the Rev. Constantine Pappademos of St. Katherine church. "He didn't mince words. That's what made him such a pleasure to work with."