Home Community Panagiota “Pitsa” Tampakis, 88, Mourned

Panagiota “Pitsa” Tampakis, 88, Mourned

Pitsa Tampakis with her Daughter Sophia and Grandchildren Panagiota, Cayla, and Irena. Photos: Courtesy of Tampakis family

New York, NY – It was with profound sadness that the historic Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Sts Constantine and Helen family in Brooklyn said goodbye on Sept.6 to a longtime Parishioner and member of the Philoptochos as well as a vivid supporter of A. Fantis School, Panagiota “Pitsa” Tampakis.

Her funeral was held on Sept. 10 at her beloved Cathedral and she was eulogized by Rev. Evagoras Constantinides, dean of the Cathedral, and the former dean, Fr. John Lardas. The very moving eulogy that follows was given by her granddaughter and namesake, Dr. Panagiota Tampakis, a speech therapist and Professor at Columbia University. 

“Panagiota “Pitsa” Alexiou Tampakis was born on March 10th, 1934 in Potamia, Greece. The eldest of seven children, she was a natural leader. When her father was tragically killed when she was in the third grade, Pitsa dropped out of school to help raise her younger siblings. At the age of 16, she bravely left her mother and siblings in Greece and came to the United States to join her cousin, Vasso Christakos, and get a job. Pitsa worked long hours in a jean factory making 5 cents an hour to send money each month back home to her family. She was introduced to the community of Saints Constantine and Helen and thereby met our grandfather, Nikita, by an aunt who was already a member. Pitsa and Nikita fell deeply in love and got married in 1954. They had three sons and a daughter, who always kept her on her toes. Pitsa raised her children to be strong, independent, fearless like she was, and instilled in them a love for their family. She raised them to be proud of their Greek heritage and always kept their bellies full. Food for Pitsa meant so much more than just a means of nourishment; she loved to take care of everyone around her by feeding them. She would wake up in the early morning to start cooking for her family and always had a table full of hot food when our pappou came home at night. Her family meant everything to her and they always came first. Pitsa was always incredibly selfless, caring and loving to everyone she met. She became a faithful member of the community at Saint Constantine and Helen and regularly donated her time whether it was by cooking for the annual festival or going to the local hospital with her friend Fay Anton to donate clothes and toys to the Children’s Hospital. 

When my sisters and I joined the picture, going to yiayia Pitsa’s was our favorite after school activity. She would be at the bus stop every day with her arms open wide to hug and kiss us and had a large plate of food waiting for us as soon as we walked through her door (and always a box of Entemann’s for dessert). When my mom would come to pick us up in the evenings, we would beg and plead with her to let us stay because Yiayia Pitsa’s house always felt like home. She was always so warm and loving and kind. And she wasn’t just our Yiayia Pitsa, she was everyone’s Yiayia Pitsa. She had a heart of gold and everyone felt that immediately upon meeting her. Her personality made people want to be around her and her house was always full of laughter, love and of course, incredible meals. 

In the past few days, a lot of people have reached out to tell my sisters and I how incredible our grandmother was. The word legend has been used several times and I think it’s truly fitting. She made a huge impression on our family and so many others and she will be greatly missed. She was so incredibly loved and I really think she felt that as she was taking her last few breaths. Even though she’s no longer here with us in the physical sense, Yiayia Pitsa helped to make so many of us who we are today and she will continue to live on in each smile we make, each hug we give and each meal we cook”.  

Thank you. 

Panagiota Tampakis