Canton, OH – Mary Abramides age 90, of Jackson Twp. went home to be with the Lord following a brief illness on Aug. 30, 2015. Mary (Thea Maro to the Greek community) was born in Katerini, Greece on Jan. 1, 1925 to the late George and Parthena Hionides. She immigrated to Canada in 1957 and then settled in West Philadelphia where she started her family with her husband, Henry in 1958.
Mary and her husband owned Harry’s Luncheonette in Darby, Pennsylvania. and The Little Den in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was very active in humanitarian efforts in relocating Greek families to the United States, especially in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania. Many of those families were Pontian Greeks who were from the Katerini area that she hailed from.
But Mary went beyond helping people immigrate. She helped those that came to the Upper Darby area from Greece find jobs and often let them live with her family until they could get on their feet. “She was compassionate by nature,” said her daughter, Esther Oustampasidis. She never asked for anything in return for helping families. “I’m a servant of God and I want to help my fellow human beings,” Mary would say.
The Abramides Family began to grow and was part of the 69th Street Christian and Missionary Alliance church, where the Greek Evangelical community was centered. This was the heart of the new Greek community that had resettled in Upper Darby (the new Greektown) from Old City Philadelphia.
Mary’s own family journey echoed her generous nature to help others relocate. Her family left from Ordu, Turkey in 1923 just at the conclusion of the Greek-Turkish wars. They were resettled with other families from Turkey in the then marshlands behind Katerini. “She knew and understood the pain of moving to a new country through her family and starting all over again,” Esther related. Her parents and her brothers were born there.
Mary, although born and raised in Greece, was a child of Pontian Greek refugees that struggled in their new homeland – Greece. In her youth, she attended medical school in Thessaloniki, where she experienced prejudice and political boundaries, primarily because of her Pontian and Evangelical faith. Many that came from the Pontos region of Turkey during the early twentieth century, were Evangelical converts from the middle of the 19th century. They were often unwelcome in Greece, making it twice as hard-being Pontian and other than Greek Orthodox. Mary eventually got her nursing degree upon arriving in America and went on to work as a nurse at the University of Pennsylvania hospital.
Some of this animosity continued in the Greek community of Upper Darby, where albeit two churches existed, one Greek Orthodox, the other Evangelical. They were just a few blocks from each other. Today, that story of the Evangelical Greek community of Upper Darby lay shrouded. But for Mary, she was a bridge for all Greeks – Orthodox or Evangelical. It mattered none to her. “It was her love of Christ and devotion as a Christian that made her the person she was,” said Esther. If someone was in need of help in Greece, her name always was mentioned and she would sponsor people without ever having met them.
Today, the Greek community owes a debt of gratitude to Mary that helped so many. If you mention her name to a senior member of this community, it’s likely that they knew her and quite possible were part of that wave of immigrants that established the Greeks of Upper Darby.
By 1979, the family had decided it was time to move. Mary Abramides wanted to be closer to her mother and extended family, in Canton, Ohio, where a thriving Greek community had emerged. The Abramides family settled into the area and joined their new church. There, Mary was an active member of Whipple Heights Christian Missionary Church and the Greek Evangelical Church. In this new community she continued with her devotion and dedication through her final days. She was a true servant of the Lord and Savior and a beacon to everyone. She never knew a stranger, welcoming everyone into her home.
She was preceded in death by her loving husband of 37 years, Henry “Harry;” brothers, Kosta (Irene) Hionides and Savas (Helen) Hionides. She is survived by her children, Bertha (Robert) Scalley, Timothy Paul (Erin Elizabeth) Abramides, Esther Oustampasidis and Harriet (Chris) Robinson; grandchildren, John Oustampasidis, Michelle Susan Scalley, Estelle Elizabeth Abramides, Evangeline Mary Abramides and Patrick Henry Abramides; brother, Anestis (Maro) Hionides; sister, Sophie (Carl) Demoss; many dear nieces and nephews.
Funeral service will be at 11:00 am, Saturday September 5, 2015 at the Whipple Heights Christian Missionary Alliance, 4900 12th St. NW Canton, Ohio 44708 with Rev. Eli Klingensmith officiating. Family and friends may visit from 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm, Friday, September 4, 2015 at Reed Funeral Home NORTH CANTON CHAPEL and Saturday from 10:00 am – 11:00 am prior to the service at the church.
Interment will take place at Forest Hill Cemetery. The family invites you to visit www.reedfuneralhome.com to read the obituary, sign the online guestbook and share fond memories.
Parts of this article are excerpts published from The Repository on September. 2, 2015.