Theresa “Demetra” Tiglias (nee Metarelis) 95, passed away peacefully on Saturday, April 6, 2019 with her daughter, Barbara Kupersmith, and son-in-law, Farrell Kupersmith, by her side. She was preceded in death by her first love, George Kocolatos, her loving second husband Louis J Tiglias, her parents, Sofocles and Caliope Metarelis, and her sister, Mary Matthews.
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Demetra is survived by her daughter Barbara (Farrell) Kupersmith of Naples, Fl, step children John Tiglias and Irene Torrieri, and many loving step-grand children, cousins, nephews and nieces. Additionally, she was the god parent of a number of children in her greater Orthodox community.
Demetra was born in Trenton, NJ on July 8, 1923 and raised in NYC. When she was a young child during the depression, her family adopted a child, Mary, who became her sister for life.
Her father was an immigrant entrepreneur who believed in and achieved the American dream with a series of successful restaurants culminating in the ownership of The Blue Ribbon, a NYC theatre district landmark German restaurant. It became the gathering spot for the stars of theatre and opera. When not in school or church, Demetra could be found with her father at “the store”.
The 3 pillars of Demetra’s upbringing were faith, family and hard work.
Always the leader, Demetra was selected by her classmates to speak for them when the class traveled to the 1939 World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows, NY when they met with the Archbishop of North and South America, Athenagoras, later the Patriarch of all Orthodox Christianity.
She married the love of her life, George Kocolatos, in 1945. He joined Demetra’s family in leading the Blue Ribbon until its closing in 1974. In the 1950s, the family relocated to Westchester County, NY. At the time, there was no Greek Orthodox church in the area so Demetra and her family founded and built St George’s Greek Orthodox Church on their property with separate onsite housing for clergy to lead the church and teach the children in the newly created Greek school.
She was on a first name basis with senior clergy from the various national Orthodox churches in many countries and, by choice, regularly stayed at monasteries and convents in lieu of hotels when traveling.
Demetra suffered successive tragedies when she lost her father, husband George and mother in little more than a year in the 1975-76 time frame. It was only her deep Orthodox faith that allowed her to regain her bearings and rebuild her life. Her knowledge and reputation in the restaurant business resulted in the owners of a large restaurant in Westchester hiring her as the manager of a multi hundred seat operation. Her knowledge of the food industry led her to her second husband, Louis J. Tiglias who was the head chef at that restaurant. He was a wonderful person and they were married for 12 years until he died in 1992.
Once again, Demetra recovered from her loss and devoted herself to serving her Orthodox community and St Katherine’s Greek Orthodox church in Naples, eventually serving as its cantor, “chantress”, for more than 20 years serving under many wonderful priests. She served until she was 92, stopping only when a serious fall left her immobile for an extended period of time. She had a gift for singing and music from her upbringing and was deeply knowledgeable in church practices. Hers was truly a labor of love. More recently, at her assisted living home, she thoroughly enjoyed and never missed St Katherine's services that were live streamed via a Smart TV made available by St Katherine's when she could not make it to church in person.
Her mother was from Sparta and Demetra was a Spartan in every sense of the word when it came to protecting and nurturing her family, her community, her church and her faith.
She was a daughter of the church and a defender of the Orthodox faith to the end. On her last night on this earth, 2 St Katherine’s friends visited her and sang a Lenten hymn in Greek dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. She sang along and went to sleep for the last time with a smile. While in hospice, she had a constant stream of loving visitors - family, friends and multiple members of the clergy. She knew she was dying but would end almost every day, despite her pain, saying “it was a wonderful day” or "I am very lucky”.
She was loved by many and will be deeply missed.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations in Demetra’s memory to St Katherine’s Greek Orthodox Church 7100 Airport Pulling Rd Naples, Fl 34109