KATHERINE C. CHOLAKIS, 84, of North Greenbush, New York, died peacefully at home on Sunday, April 18, 2021.
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Katherine was born in Washington, D.C., the daughter of the late Christos Evangelos and Urania (Duni) Buas, who emigrated to the United States from Drymades, Himara, Albania in 1935, and the beloved wife of 48 years of the late Thomas G. Cholakis.
Katherine was the much loved mother of Nia (John Aretakis) and George (Evangeline) and is also survived by her siblings: Elaine Buas of Silver Spring, MD, Anastasia Ruocco of Baltimore, MD and Evangelos Buas (and the late Diane Buas) of Silver Spring, MD.
Katherine was the proud grandmother of her cherished grandchildren, John, Katherine “Kady” and Matthew. They were the true lights of her life and she adored and loved them “to the moon and back”.
Katherine was the dear daughter-in-law of the late George and Katina Cholakis of Troy, New York, the dear sister-in-law of Nicholas (and the late Helen) Cholakis and Dassie (and the late Con G.) Cholakis. She is survived by many nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.
Katherine was the first of her family to be born in the United States. As the eldest, she helped raise and nurture her three younger siblings and her four cousins who shared the same home, which is now an embassy on 16th Street and Military Avenue in Washington, D.C. She also watched over other younger cousins from her family’s village in Albania who had also settled in Washington, D.C. Decades later, her siblings and cousins still lovingly refer to her as the matriarch of the family. Katherine was the first in her family to attend school in America. Even though she did not initially speak English, her warmth and engaging personality endeared her to her classmates and she quickly became a popular member of the graduating class of Calvin Coolidge High School in 1955, where she excelled academically and socially. She graduated with a major in Business, and served as class President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer, and proudly represented her school as Cheerleader and member of the Spanish Club.
Upon graduation, she followed a calling to serve her country by working for the U.S. Navy in Washington, D.C. She reminisced over the years how proud she was to have worked as administrative staff support on the Polaris Missile project. When the Admiral in charge of the project asked her opinion on the missile launch trajectory, Katherine voiced her thoughts and the rest, she liked to say, is history.
Katherine was a voracious reader of novels, and in her youth, an avid dancer and member of the Teen League, Junior Goya and Maids of Athena. She also served as Sunday School teacher at St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Washington, D.C. She and her friends attended numerous AHEPA conferences in Washington, D.C., where she eventually met her late husband, Tom. They were married in July of 1959 at the St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Washington, D.C., before moving to Troy.
She was a long time communicant of the St. Basil Greek Orthodox Church in Troy and member of the Ladies Philoptochos Society. She worked tirelessly for many years on the St Basil annual Greek Festival committee, heading a group that made delicious Finikia, a type of Greek pastry, for their festival. In her family’s opinion (and an opinion shared by many), she made the best Pastitio from her mother’s legendary recipe.
When returning to the workforce after raising her two children, Katherine was an editor of the Albany-based magazine, Woman’s Locally and thereafter an Executive Administrative Secretary for NYS Assemblyman Glenn Warren and Assemblyman Will Stephens for twenty plus years, where she retired in 1999.
Katherine was a very caring and giving person to all who knew her and was very generous to charities special to her.
A special thank you to Kathy Allen and the North Greenbush Ambulance Association and to Dr. Kevin Costello for his tireless commitment to fulfilling her end of life wishes. Through his efforts and the efforts of the Albany Medical Center CCU Unit, Katherine was able to spend her remaining days at home with her family.
Calling hours will be held on Friday, April 23, 2021, at Parker Bros Funeral Home, 2013 Broadway, Watervliet, NY from 4-7 p.m. with the Trisagion memorial service to be held at 7 p.m. Due to COVID restrictions, funeral services will be private (www.stbasiltroy.com/live-stream) and held on Saturday, April 24, 2021, at St. Basil Greek Orthodox Church, 909 River Street, Troy, followed by interment in the Elmwood Hill Cemetery, 51 Belle Avenue, Troy.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in her memory to St. Basil Greek Orthodox Church, 909 River Street, Troy, NY 12180. (www.stbasiltroy.com/giving)