The Philadelphia Greek immigrant community bid farewell to Despina (Bessie) Zantopoulos, a revered figure known for her compassion and commitment. She peacefully passed away on June 10th, 2024, leaving behind an enduring legacy. Born in Massillon, Ohio on June 29, 1929, Bessie was raised in a close-knit Greek immigrant community, where she imbibed the values of generosity and service.

Throughout her life, Bessie played a significant role in her community. She was instrumental in establishing the St. Demetrius in Upper Darby, PA, and actively contributed to the Greek Orthodox Church. Her involvement with the church’s philanthropic organization, Philoptochos, was especially remarkable. Her impact was felt at the St. Nicholas Cathedral in Tarpon Springs, Florida as well.

Bessie’s dedication to serving others extended beyond her church activities. From volunteering at senior centers to supporting charitable organizations like Meals on Wheels, Hospice, Ronald McDonald House, and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, she devoted herself to making a positive difference in the lives of those in need. Her selfless contributions earned her various accolades and awards, including being named Congressional “Citizen of the Year” in 1997 and receiving the 2011 Philanthropy Award for her commitment to the community and the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral.

Despite her professional success in market research across Pennsylvania, Florida, and Alaska, Bessie remained firmly rooted in her family and church, embodying the values of hard work and compassion.

Bessie’s impact extended far beyond her immediate family, as she was affectionately known as Nouna or Thea to many, by blood and by love. She cherished her granddaughters and great-grandchildren, finding immense joy in their presence.

She is survived by her son Nicholas (Jean) Zantopoulos, granddaughters Julie Zantopoulos, Nicole Hedlund, Alana Zantopoulos, and Georgina (Tyler) Groff, as well as her seven great-grandchildren, Charlie Hedlund, Ava Hedlund, Carter Hedlund, Edie Hedlund, Shyanne Barone, Atticus Groff, and Lochlan Groff.

Friends and family are invited to attend her viewing on Thursday, June 20, 2024, at St. Luke Greek Orthodox Church, located at 35 N. Malin Rd, Broomall, PA, from 10 am to 12 pm, followed by her funeral service at 12 pm. As per Bessie’s wishes, her interment will be private. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to The Greek Orthodox Ladies Philoptochos Society, Orthodox Christian Mission Fund National Philoptochos. For more information, visit

Despina Zantopoulos will be deeply missed and fondly remembered for her unwavering dedication to her community, her selfless acts of kindness, and her profound impact on the lives of those around her. May her memory be eternal.

In 2015, Despina shared her insights and experiences in an interview with Cosmos Philly. Please take a moment to watch this captivating video.