By Paul Glastris
It has taken me several days to summon the will to let you all know the sad news that our beloved mother, Bess “Vasiliki” Dimpapas Glastris, has passed away. She was admitted to North Shore University Evanston Hospital Wednesday afternoon complaining of extreme fatigue. Early Thursday morning she suffered a massive heart attack. She died two hours later. She was not in pain, and my brothers Bill and George and sister-in-law Carolyn were by her side the whole time, with me on the phone and the grandkids furiously texting each other.
To say that someone who lived to be 93 ½ years old left this earth too soon may sound odd. But if you knew our mom you know what I mean. Her mind was so sharp, her comportment so dignified, her facial features so lovely, her stamina for conversation so great, her hunger for information (the latest political news; details, no matter how small, about the lives of her family and friends) so undiminished, that people were shocked when they learned how old she was.
And so we are still in shock, even as were recognize that she lived a full and amazing life.
She was born in St. Louis in 1924 to Greek immigrant parents; lived through the Depression and WWII; had a pioneering career at KWK Radio-TV in St. Louis; married a man (the late William V. Glastris Sr.) who adored her; taught Sunday school, sang in the choir, and worked the festivals at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox; housed and cared for her mother Olympia for decades; had three sons and five grandchildren who couldn’t get enough of her; was integral to the lives of her siblings, in-laws, cousins, nieces and nephews in far-flung U.S cities and in Greece and India (the homeland of my late wife Kukula, with whom she was extremely close); was the voice talent for many radio commercials produced by Glastris-Manning/Courtesy Checks Advertising and Public Relations Group, our father’s small company; manned the visitors booth at the St. Louis Convention Center and gave tours of the city to scores of out-of-town journalists and dignitaries; kept a spotless home and cooked hearty Greek and American meals that were the subject of awe and study; was the saintly caretaker of our dad during the challenging last decade-plus of his life; and built a network of friends, neighbors, and fellow parishioners of St. Nicholas and residents of The Mather retirement community in Evanston that was as rich and complicated as a Tolkien novel.
A woman such as this deserves an epic and celebratory sendoff, and that is what she will have. There will be a wake at Ambruster Chapel in Clayton, MO on the afternoon/evening of Monday, May 14. The funeral will be on Tuesday, May 15 at St. Nicholas, followed by a procession to and service at St. Matthews Cemetery in South St. Louis and a “Makaria” lunch at Spiros Restaurant on Watson Road (see obit in this coming Sunday’s St. Louis Post-Democrat for details and updates). On Saturday afternoon, May 19, we will have a memorial reception at The Mather in Evanston, Illinois for all her (and our) Chicago friends. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church’s Family Life Center or Philoptochos (“friends of the poor”) Society.
If you have thoughts, memories, stories, or photos about mom you’d like to share—and we really hope you do; the more detail the better--please add them as comments below or to the LifePosts page you can link to below.
May her memory be eternal.
NOTE: In lieu of flowers, please consider contributing in mom's name to St. Nicholas Philoctochos and Family Life Center.
SOME FAVORITE VIDEOS
I love this one of mom and Kuku watching MSNBC instead of looking at alligators in the keys:
Here's Adam and mom feeding the fishes:
Mom and the grandkids try on hats:
Mom with Toby:
Dear George, Paul and Bill.
We are all so sorry for the loss of your mom and our lovely thia Vasiliki. Your mom was a great lady. She was "archontissa" and we were loving her so much!We know that she was a great wife, mother and grandmother. Every time she was talking about her family, she was shining!
I have clearly on my mind, her wonderful and always warm smile and i think, that is what i will keep from her for all of my life.
I have great memories from thia Vasiliki...
I remember the feelings from her first visit in Kozani with your father... much familiarity, much love, much happiness. We were all excited and finaly we were feeling that we knew each other for many many years.
I remember her second visit, with Bill, on 2008. She had decided to find contacts with family here, after a long time of silence (20+ years). And she did it! I remember... one night i was at aunt Theodora's home to give her medicines, when the phone ringed. Aunt Theodora answered and spoked, she didn't (she couldn't) understand, she gave me the phone and told me "i can not exactly understand the lady... please speak". I took the phone, i said "parakalo?" and i heard your moms voice. I was thrilled hearing her, i couldn't believe it. After a long and warm conversation, we exchanged emails and phone numbers.... so now, we are able to communicate.
And not just this. She decided to come for a very fast journey, to visit one more time the land of her parents.
She was so creative and so active.
I'm proud... we are all proud of her. We were lucky to meet her twice and live that moments.We knew... we were feeling how much she was loving us (hronia polla Kostaki....she was writting on fb - so kind, so lovely) and we were also loving her too much.
Dear cousins and family, we are all thinking of you and wishing you strength at this moments.
May God rest her soul in peace!May her memory be eternal (eonia i mnimi)!Antio thia Vasiliki...
Kostas and family in Kozani.
COMMENTS ON FACEBOOK
Impeccable always in her manners and appearance, she had a deep grace and was a “lady” in the highest and most complimentary sense of the word.
She was known for a relentless interest and enthusiasm for…well...everything. However long it had been since you saw her last, she would remember EXACTLY the things you had spoken about, and she’d want to know: what had happened on that trip you were planning? Had you been back to that place, or seen that person? Could you believe that [idiot politician] whom you had talked about had continued to do [idiotic thing] since then?
Her powers of political prediction were formidable as well fueled by the staggering volume of her media consumption in combination with the wisdom of her years. We were crazy about her.
It wasn’t until I became a parent myself that I could try to guess what it was like to be a parent to a child that had suffered an injury for which the word grievous seems to have been invented. That Paul’s great heart and intellect and generous spirit continued on its successful path in this world was a testament to her as well, her outlook and stamina and love.
And the fierceness of that love expanded naturally to her daughter in law, Kukula. But drop the “in-law” part. Those two were thick as thieves. It simply wasn’t possible to have anything closer to an actual mother-daughter bond.
Over the years Yiayia and Kuku were on twin spiritual journeys, with Yiayia possessed of a rock bed faith in the rich and communal traditions of the Greek Orthodox church, and Kuku more the questioner. Kuku had long embraced in every meaningful way the glory of being Greek and capped that off a few years ago when she and Paul were (re)married in the Greek Orthodox church. Such was her love for Paul that she would have remarried him on just about any altar you could find but it gave her special satisfaction to honor Bess’ deep and abiding faith with this additional gesture of commitment.
Yiayia left us much to be grateful for and we so were lucky to know her, but we completely agree with Paul’s sentiment that even having lived a full and amazing life of 93 years, it was too soon for her to leave.
Lucky you are to have had such parents! My husband, Fritz, and I are preparing to move from our home in Wildwood to a condo in Webster Groves, and so it is that I am sorting through many things, and this evening, Sunday, May 6, came across a lovely note from your mother, Bess. She sent it to us in 2012, on the occasion of our 50th wedding anniversary. Of course, I began to wonder how Bess was doing. She and Bill were, as you know, among favorite friends of my dad, Sam Nakis, and mainly I knew and enjoyed Bill and Bess through him. But in recent years, before she moved to Chicago, Bess and I had taken to going out now and then to dinner, and discovering that we had much in common. I so enjoyed her vibrancy, and loved hearing her talk about “my boys,” as well as about her grandchildren and Paul’s wife, Kukula, of whom she was extremely fond. I missed seeing her after her move, but life forges on, and we spoke only a couple times on the phone.
“I must call Bess again soon,” I told myself after re-reading her note this evening, but then decided to check the Internet, knowing that things happen to people in their 90s. And there it was, the very sad news that only 10 days ago, St. Louis’s beloved Bess left this earth.
Fritz and I send to all your family our deepest condolences. It is an odd thing to say, I suppose, but we look forward to celebrating Bess’s life with her family and friends in mid-May. It would be hard to overstate how much Bess and Bill enriched the Greek community in St. Louis, and the broader community, with their spirit, humor, intellects and uncountable contributions.
May their memories be eternal, indeed.
And Paul, it was through these circumstances of this evening that I also learned of your great loss with the untimely death of your beautiful wife. What a terrible couple of years for you. I am so very sorry.
With you in sorrow and friendship,
Pam Nakis Schaeffer