ALBANY — Demetra Karathanasis Zorbas, 94, of Albany, passed away peacefully at her home on June 16, 2022, surrounded by her loving family.
She was born and raised on the Aegean Island of Samos, Greece. She also lived in Athens. Her destiny was divinely orchestrated when a dear friend of hers suggested that she correspond with a young man serving in the Greek army. After a couple of years as pen pals, the two would meet on a street corner in Athens; she would be the one wearing a red carnation on her lapel. She instantly fell in love with this handsome man, future soulmate and husband, and thus began an extraordinary love story.
Life in war-torn Greece was exceptionally difficult. Fortunately, their fate was sealed when an aunt in the U.S. invited the couple to immigrate to Albany. Thus began their new life and quest "to live the American dream" and to live a prosperous, fulfilling life. They knew not a word of English - yet Demetra was never discouraged or felt socially disadvantaged.
Determined to learn the language, she studied and could name every U.S. President (in order), could recite the Constitution, and recalled every capital of every state. After a waiting period of several years, she renounced her Greek citizenship and proudly and passionately became an American citizen.
Demetra embraced every challenge with enthusiasm - she wanted to assimilate to new customs and succeed in this land and culture. It all became an opportunity for growth: she learned the English language by listening to TV soap operas and songs on the radio; and, determined to drive a car, she passed her road test on the very first try! A devoted wife and mother, she man- aged every aspect of her home - she raised and guided four adoring children, who later brought 11 grandchildren and seven greatgrandchildren into her life.
Her spirit is alive and present in her entire family. She has passed down her love of travel (she went on a myriad of cruises to many island destinations), music (she was always singing and the first one on the dance floor), gardening (she gave a whole new meaning to "green thumb"), animals (she fed all that would come around looking for food; a fox was known to visit her daily in Cape Cod), cooking and baking (she was an accomplished epicure who prepared everything from scratch) and of course, shopping!
Her adventurous spirit guided her every move; she was determined to visit and explore Cape Cod and would later own a home and spend summers creating beautiful memories with her family in Dennis Port. She also wanted to see Florida - eventually owning a home there and officially becoming a "snow- bird."
She never forgot her humble beginnings - she would regularly send boxes of shoes and clothing to needy relatives and friends in the "old country." She was kind, happy and joyful - her glass was always half-full.
"A wife, a mother, a grandma too, this is the legacy we have from you. You taught us love and how to fight, you gave us strength, you gave us might. A stronger person would be hard to find, and in your heart, you were always kind. You fought for us all in one way or another, not just as a wife not just as a mother. For all of us you gave your best, now the time has come for you to rest. So go in peace, you've earned your sleep, your love in our hearts, we'll eternally keep."
She was predeceased by her parents, George and Kiriaki Karathanasis; her brother, Thanasis Karathanasis and his wife Sophia; and her sister-in-law, Nickoletta Karathanasis. She is survived by her devoted and loving husband of 70 years, John F. Zorbas. She is also survived by her four children, Angelique Huerter (James), Fannia Mendel (Matt), Frances Meyer (Christopher), and Foti Zorbas (Colleen); her beloved grandchildren, Michael Mooney (Kara), John Mooney (Chris), Nikki Owens (Brandon), Jamie Sanok (David), Kristina Meyer, Alex Mendel, Callista Zorbas, Demetra Zorbas, Christopher Meyer Jr., John Meyer, and John Zorbas; her cherished greatgrandchildren, Jackson, Patrick, Reese, Addy, Demi, William, and Ava; her brother, Pithagoras Karathanasis of Albany; her sister, Evanthia Markakis of Melbourne, Australia; and many nieces and nephews.
The family extends their appreciation to Dr. Shahina Javeed of New Port Richey, Fla., along with the many nurses there that loved and helped care for Demetra (especially Christine and Debbie). We also extend a thank you to the team at Community Hospice in Albany, most of all to Tara Mandinec, whose kindness and compassion will not be forgotten.
Private services will be held in Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Church in Albany. Memorial contributions may be made to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital at Stjude.org/memorial or by calling 800-873-6983. You are forever in our hearts - you are our Mommy and our Yiayia, and our super Yiayia too! Services are with the Cannon Funeral Home. To leave a message for the family, visit www.CannonFuneral.com