2015-02-18 / Front Page

Catherine Georgianis: The Passing Of A Greek American


Catherine Georgianis of Mattituck died January 7 at Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead. Born Feb. 12, 1933, in Northern Epirus, Albania to Vasilios and Agatha Conis, she was 81.

“Resilient, feisty, nurturing, this is Ekaterini Georgianis,” said her daughter, Maria Litos, an educator with a journalism background. “She grew up in the small farming village of Skorgiathes. Her childhood was interrupted by war. Her mother, Agathi, taught her to survive and kept her out of harm’s way from the Nazis who burned her home.”

Georgianis’ youth is one of many such stories about WW II. The tragedy of Northern Epirotes is that families, parents and grandparents were separated by Albanian-Greek boundaries.

Litos explained that her mother began a new life when she was 14 by immigrating to America. She met her father, Vasilios, for the first time in New York City.

Settling in Manhattan, she completed high school and worked in New York’s garment district. She met the love of her life, her husband Demetrios, by chance when they were walking down Fifth Avenue in the Greek Independence Day parade. They began more than 60 years of married life together in Manhattan, later in Flushing, and finally as retirees in Mattituck.

The couple raised two children, Nicholas and Maria, dreaming of a better future for their children.

“She always emphasized education and never put limitations on what her kids could accomplish,” explained her daughter. “She showed them the value of hard work and how to be mentally tough, no matter what life presents. She created a loving home for her family and was always there to guide her children. She was someone who used every moment to create something that would bring happiness to others. She beautified her modest home with her framed needlepoint on tablecloths, pillows and an assortment of houseplants that transformed her home into a mini-hothouse. Her home was always filled with the wonderful aromas of her koulourakia butter cookies and world-famous spanakopita.”

Georgianis was a mentor to her two grandchildren, Christina and Evangelia. She passed on her many talents to them during their summer vacations in Mattituck and inspired a love of reading and nature in them.

Georgianis, a former Flushing resident, had big dreams for the girls, encouraging them in all their goals.

Litos believes her mother “is not gone from us. Her memory will always be among the living. Her spirit will always be ready to guide us, to nurture us and to comfort us in our time of greatest need.”

Georgianis is survived by her husband, Demetrios; her children, Maria Litos of New Hyde Park and Nicholas of Staten Island; her sister Polymneia Babanikas of the Bronx and two grandchildren.

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