Obituary of Katina G. Hondros
Katina G. Hondros, née Tsipianitis, age 87, of Joliet, passed away peacefully, Saturday, December 30, 2023, at Silver Cross Hospital, with her loving family by her side.
Beloved wife of the late George Hondros; loving sister of Matina (John) Kalopisis, George (Maria) Tsipianitis; devoted mother to Maria, Sophia (Jeff) Reiter, Louie (Sally); adored grandmother to Melina and Niko Reiter; cherished aunt and cousin to a wide circle of family members.
Katina was born October 6, 1936, in the Greek village of Tegea. Though the family lived in town, they spent hours in the nearby fields cultivating gardens. From an early age she learned to appreciate a commitment to hard work as well as the joys of digging in the soil, a hobby she pursued for the rest of her life.
As a child during World War II, Katina had memories of German soldiers occupying her home. Towards the end of the war, the entire family lived, safe but sequestered, in a single room.
Growing up, she was a dedicated student as well as a decorated athlete in track and field. Following high school, Katina pursued a degree at The Assembly of Tegea - an academy of home economics. Her coursework included child psychology and house management. Katina also earned a special diploma in pattern making and sewing, ultimately distinguishing herself and being recognized as number one in her class and winning 1,000 drachmas - quite a sum in 1955.
After earning her degree, she moved to Arahova and worked at the school as an instructor.
It was during this time that a handsome young suitor caught her eye. George Hondros, himself originally from Arahova, had headed off to the United States seven years earlier to seek his fortune. Returning to Greece, a mutual friend introduced them, and their chemistry was instant. Following a brief courtship, as well as a slight tussle over the dowry (family lore suggests an extra fig tree needed to be thrown in to seal the deal), the two married in August 1957.
Life changed quickly for Katina. By age 20, she found herself living in a new country, the wife of a budding restauranteur, and a new mother to daughter Maria.
Daughter Sophia followed in 1961, as did son Louie in 1963. By 1966, George felt established enough to suggest the family take their nest egg back to Greece, where they could settle comfortably.
With that in mind, the entire family returned to Greece that summer. George returned to Chicago to keep working, with the understanding he would be back soon. Katina realized that in the nine years since leaving Greece, she had learned to love her life in America. She let her husband know that at the end of the summer, she and the children would be returning. Despite her short stature, she could be a force of nature. Though the conversation was not documented, the outcome was evident. The Hondros family returned happily, and permanently, to Joliet for the rest of their lives.
While George worked tirelessly in the restaurant business, Katina exercised full command of the household. Her culinary skills were legendary, as were her vegetable and flower gardens. Holidays would find her hosting between 40 and 60 family members, with every dish made from scratch.
In addition to raising the three children, Katina owned her own business as an expert seamstress, catering to sophisticated clientele, and utilizing the skills she had learned back in Greece.
Her commitment to the church defined Katina and lasted throughout her life. She was an active member of the choir, as well as a lifelong member of the Daughters of Penelope and Philoptochos. At the annual church bake sale, Katina would make as many as 700 pieces of baklava, resulting in her family lovingly referring to her as "Kyria Baklava," or Mrs. Baklava.
Her greatest role was as yiayia to Melina and Niko. Her devotion to her grandchildren began even before their birth, when she insisted on accompanying Sophia to every single OB appointment.
Katina showed up to raise and spoil her grandchildren in every conceivable way. Whether helping with the mundane chore of picking them up from school, or the more fun of hosting them for weekends, Katina was a full-on presence. She was the type of grandmother who got down on the floor to play and led hunts through the garden in search of rabbit warrens. Throughout the entirety of their young adult lives, Katina built a meaningful, substantive relationship between herself and her grandchildren.
Visitation for Katina Hondros will be held Friday, January 5, 2024 from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m., at the Fred C. Dames Funeral Home, 3200 Black Road, Joliet, and will be followed by services at 11:00 a.m., from the funeral home, to All Saints Greek Orthodox Church, for services at 12:00 Noon. Interment will be in Woodlawn Memorial Park.
Flowers in her honor, or memorials to All Saints Greek Orthodox Church would be appreciated.
For more information, please call (815) 741-5500 or visit her Memorial Tribute at www.fredcdames.com
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