Source: Orthodox Christian Laity
The founding mother of Orthodox Christian Laity, Mary (Dallianis) Koulogeorge, fell asleep in the Lord on December 21, 2023. Her funeral prayers will be offered on January 2, 2024, at her home parish of Saints Peter and Paul Orthodox Church, Glenview, Illinois, where she and her late husband were benefactors and members. She was predeceased by her husband Jim of blessed memory in 2015.
In 1987, Mary and Jim opened their Northbrook home and hosted the organizational meeting for what would become Orthodox Christian Laity. They gathered lifetime friends and neighbors who were devout Orthodox Christians to address the need for renewal in the structure of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. The organizational meeting included many former Greek Orthodox Youth of America (GOYA) members who were part of the Greatest Generation who addressed the issue of Orthodox Christian Unity in the 1950s and early 1960s. This group included Kay Valone, Andrew and Alice Kopan, Jim and Carol Demetrion, George and Mary Aravosis, Sotiri and Anastasia Tsoutsouras, Eva Topping, and George and Roula Karcazes, to name just a few folks involved in the formation of OCL.
For thirty-six years, Mary Koulogeorge watched and encouraged the growth and development of this organization. Jim served as treasurer from 1987 until 2015, and I would call regularly during this time. Mary was always up to date on the work and progress of OCL and was our cheerleader and enabler. She provided encouragement in her soft and gentle manner. But she and a cadre of her friends were always working behind the scenes to assist the organization in its growth and development. They planned the logistics of our annual meeting settings. They stitched and sowed our first blue and white OCL banner. They hosted board members in their homes when we met in different cities.
The passing of Mary recalls the fact that although the wives assisted their husbands in offering their time, talent, and resources to the success of the organization, each one of these women have had strong and individualistic personalities. Just look back at the accomplishments of some of the board wives. With their husbands, they raised strong children who continue to contribute to the life of the Church. Mary’s legacy is that her children and grandchildren are still contributing members in the life of the Saint Peter and Paul Community. The work she and Jim began moves forward through them. But many had careers. They were outstanding educators, scientists, community volunteers and homemakers.
We celebrate the memory of Mary and remember her grace and dignity as she fought her long battle with MS. She is at peace now, where there is no pain, sorrow or suffering. Her memory is everlasting!
Posted on Memory Eternal Funeral Directors
Mary T. Koulogeorge née Dallianis passed away peacefully on December 20, 2023, at the age of 92. She was the daughter of the late Thomas and Irene Dallianis née Manzagliotaki and the adored wife of the late James A. Koulogeorge.
Mary was born in Tripoli, Greece on June 17, 1931. She fondly recalled the long ship journey to New York’s Ellis Island and the excitement of seeing the Statue of Liberty welcoming her to America. Mary’s family moved to Chicago where she worked in her father’s restaurant and graduated from Forman High School and Wright College. She met Jim Koulogeorge at a Church dance where he prophetically remarked “I think I am going to marry you” and indeed they married on June 12, 1955, moving to the northern Chicago suburbs.
Realizing that the Greek Orthodox community was rapidly growing on Chicago’s North Shore Mary and Jim in 1959 spearheaded a meeting at their home to gather other Orthodox faithful to petition the Archdiocese to allow the formation of a suburban Church. On November 12, 1959, their efforts resulted in the formation of the granting of the charter for Saints Peter and Paul Greek Orthodox Church in Glenview, IL. which remains to this day a vibrant house of worship. In 1960 Mary was the first chairperson of the Church’s annual Bazaar or Holiday Fair which at the time was a unique concept. Mary was an active member of the Ladies Philoptochos Society serving in many capacities including treasurer, chaplain, Dinner Dance chair, and cookbook editor. Mary and Jim were also founding members of Orthodox Christian Laity a nationwide organization that promotes unity among the Orthodox faithful.
Mary was proud to have raised four children who each earned graduate degrees. She was the family’s Greek school instructor and after raising her children she re-entered the workforce in the 1980s. As “Yiayia” to nine grandchildren she was known as the “kissing machine” who showered them with unconditional love. Mary was well known as a hospitable gracious hostess and a talented cook. The Chicago Tribune Magazine on March 18, 1979, published a two-page article about Mary featuring her Greek traditions and wonderful recipes. She was also featured in the book “Greektown Chicago: It’s History – It’s Recipes”. Patrons of the Church bake sales and bazaar bakery would request Mary’s baked goods by name. Her desserts in particular were fabulous.
Most of all Mary will be remembered for the gracious and courageous way she conducted herself during her 45-year battle with multiple sclerosis. She literally never once complained about being struck with the disease. She would occasionally fall, but never accept assistance in picking herself up off the ground, Eventually, she became wheelchair-bound but still organized art projects and cookie-baking parties for her grandchildren. She remained active socially, attended the theater and movies regularly, and all Church and family events. Her positive attitude, joy for life, integrity and trust in God were an inspiration to all.
Mary is survived by her beloved children Patty (Mark) Damisch, Steve (Phaedra) Koulogeorge, Mark (Karen) Koulogeorge and Paul (Eliay Barr) Koulogeorge as well as her brother John (Debbie) Dallianis. She was preceded in death by her brothers Harry Dallianis and Bill (Dina) Dallianis. Mary cherished her nine grandchildren Kristina (Kevin) Damisch, Katherine (Kevin Pollack) Damisch, Mara (Nate) Wittman, James (Jordan) Koulogeorge, Sarah Koulogeorge, Alexandra (John O’Neill) Damisch, Peter Koulogeorge, Miranda Koulogeorge and Andrew Koulogeorge. It was her joy to welcome into her family five great-grandchildren, Leah and Greyson Koulogeorge, August Wittman, Michael O’Neill and Luke Pollack. She was a treasured cousin, aunt, koumbara, nouna and friend to many.
A special thank you to her caretakers Janice, Ashley, Debbie and Heather who were wonderful companions and gave Mary such tender care.
Visitation Tuesday, January 2, 2024, from 9:00 AM until the time of Funeral Service at 10:00 AM at Saints Peter and Paul Greek Orthodox Church, 1401 Wagner Road, Glenview, IL 60025. Interment to follow at Memorial Park Cemetery, Skokie, IL.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to Orthodox Christian Laity PO Box 6954, West Palm Beach, Florida 33405-6954 or the Greek American Rehabilitation and Care Centre, 220 N. 1st Street, Wheeling, Illinois 60090. Arrangements by Memory Eternal Funeral Directors, Ltd. (847) 375-0095.
May her memory be eternal.