BOARDMAN, Ohio – Marie N. Manolukas, 88, passed away unexpectedly on Oct. 28, 2012, while recovering from a recent illness at St. Elizabeth Health Center.
Marie was born on July 23, 1924, in St. Paul, Minnesota to her parents, Peter N. and Chrisaida Katsorinis Strenglis, who were Greek immigrants from the Pelopónnesos.
She graduated from Mechanic Arts High School in 1942 and went to work as a bookkeeper at her family’s business, Rainbow Pies.
When her father and uncles sent her to the University of Minnesota to learn accounting, she rewarded herself by secretly taking a photography class, igniting her lifelong love affair with photography. When her dad found out, he revealed his long hidden passion for photography that he’d abandoned when he began his family. Together they built a dark room which led to her experimentation with early colorization of black and white photography long before color film was readily available.
If you were within her wide circle of friends, she often mused that she had more pictures of you and your family then you had.
On June 7, 1953, she married her love of life, Nicholas J. Manolukas and moved to Youngstown, Ohio where they started their family.
She was a long time member of St. John the Forerunner Greek Orthodox Church. Having lost her own parents far too soon, she found herself drawn to the senior citizens that attended St. Johns, many of whom were also immigrants. Shortly thereafter, she became one of the founding members and subsequent President of their Senior Citizens group. She passionately committed herself to building community for the elderly through monthly luncheons, holiday programs, volunteer opportunities and companionship activities.
One of her favorite creations was establishing a “cafenio” at the annual church festival, where she hung her pictures from past years and recruited the seniors to serve Greek coffee and pastries while she honed her talent in the ancient Greek tradition of “reading” the coffee cups of festival attendees.
She continued to serve as President for a term that spanned decades not years, well after she was a senior citizen herself, until she reluctantly passed the reins on to another committed volunteer.
By her seventies, and after she’d lost her middle son, Petey, to Cooley’s anemia, she’d accumulated hundreds of thousands of pictures and began to ponder what she was going to do with them all. One day she decided to put a few pictures of each of her seniors in individual envelopes and give them away as gifts. The recipients loved the pictures, and reciprocated by flourishing her with generous gratuities which she tried to refuse. She responded by creating beautiful photo albums for many of her seniors, friends and family members, with a letter explaining her labor of love, and suggesting that for those who were moved to do something nice for her in return.
They considered making a small contribution in Petey’s memory to find a cure for Cooley’s anemia.
Many hearts were lifted and many thousands of dollars were raised from this simple gesture.
Marie was also a past President of the women’s Philoptochos Society delighting in the camaraderie of serving others through the church, creating lasting friendships and helping those less fortunate.
Another lifelong passion for Marie was her love of music. Her parents bought a piano for her at an early age, and her mother loved to dance, sing and iron to popular music on the radio, and 78 rpm Greek and American records on the phonograph.
Years later, she would relish her role serving as President of the Youngstown Symphony Guild with exuberant and inspired leadership.
Petey’s physical disability also inspired Marie to become an active longtime member of, and photographer for, the Angels of Easter Seals, where she was on the original cook book committee that has raised millions of dollars for individuals with physical and developmental disabilities in Mahoning County, Ohio.
An original supermom, she did all of these activities simultaneously, with a positive attitude, generous spirit and only after she’d gone above and beyond taking care of the needs of her three boys, and beloved husband. Toss in her love of cooking, travelling, entertaining friends and family (including her infamous New Year’s eve parties she and her husband threw annually for many years), PTA meetings, and hopefully you get a sense of her dynamic nature.
Her Hellenic friends at yet another service group in which she was a longtime member and officer, the Daughters of Penelope, recognized her tremendous spirit and boundless energy to serving others by nominating her as the Youngstown Y.W.C.A. Woman of the Year, an honor she did indeed win in 1994 in the Woman of Valor category.
Besides her parents, she was preceded in death by her loving husband, Nicholas J. Manolukas; son Peter N. Manolukas; brother Nicholas P. Strenglis; sister Anastasia P. Ballas; brothers-in-law Anastasios Ballas, Dr. A.H. Kyriakides and Lambros A. Pappas; and sister-in-law, Calliope Strenglis.
She is survived by two sons, John J. Manolukas of Boardman, Ohio; her caregiver with whom she made her home, and Nicholas G. (Juanita) Manolukas of Sarasota, Fla.; sister Nausica Nancy (John) Lambros; sisters-in-law, Katherine M. Kyriakides and Georgia D. Pappas; and many other extended family members and friends.
Visitation will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 2, 2012, with Trisagion service at 6:30 p.m. at the Vaschak-Kirila Funeral Home, 3100 Canfield Road.
Viewing will be at 9:30 a.m.
Funeral service will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012, at St. John the Forerunner Greek Orthodox Church, 4955 Glenwood Ave.
Interment will be at Belmont Cemetery.
Memorials may be sent Youngstown Symphony Orchestra or Youngstown YWCA
Please visit www.vaschak-kirilafh.com
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