Cleo Nicki Maletis (born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada; 11 March 1925 - 9 November 2009) was a Canadian-born American beauty pageant titleholder. She was crowned the 19th Mrs. America in the Mrs. America Pageant of 1957.
Life and family
Maletis was born to Greek immigrant parents Thomas and Pagoula "Peggy" Michas and grew up in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. She went on to receive her B.A. from the University of Washington in home economics, graduating in 1946. One year later on June 28, 1947 Cleo was married to Chris C. Maletis, Jr. in Vancouver. After becoming a U.S. citizen, the couple moved to Portland, Oregon, where her husband had grown up. She became the mother of four boys: Chris Maletis, III (born 1948), Tom Maletis (born 1951), Ed Maletis (born 1954), and Rob Maletis (born 1957).
While pregnant with her youngest son Rob, she became "Mrs. America 1957" while visiting numerous European countries as an honorary ambassador. During this time, Maletis became interested in the growing trend of working mothers in Denmark, praising the Danish nurseries that allowed for both parents to work; a trend not yet realized for 1957 suburban Portland. After retiring her crown to Linwood Findley, Maletis went to work for her husband's family beverage distributing business, Maletis, Inc., which in 1993 became Maletis Beverage and Columbia Distributing, the former now run by son Rob Maletis and latter by son Ed Maletis.
Maletis suffered from Alzheimer's disease since 2002 and died on November 9, 2009 in Portland, Oregon surrounded by her family. She stated that her proudest achievement in life was in raising four sons and 10 grandchildren all within the same city. She was 84.
- "An Oregon Century Growing Up In The 1950's". The Oregonian (Washington County Edition); December 27, 1999; pg. A01.
- "'Mrs. America Is Cheesecake Specialist". The Washington Post and Times Herald; June 28, 1956; pg. 37
- 'Mrs. America's' Home Views Liked in Europe". The Los Angeles Times; December 19, 1956; pg. A5.
- Columbia Distributing Co., History of Success
- Maletis Beverage Co., History Archived 2008-01-30 at the Wayback Machine.
- "Mother of Four Wins Mrs. America Crown". The Los Angeles Times; May 12, 1957; pg. 4
- Obituary of Cleo N. Maletis, The Oregonian