The Late Athena Peters: A Person who Gave Meaning in the World

by Catherine Tsounis

“You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honor” -- Aristotle.

Athena Peters of Bayside, New York was a courageous person who gave everyone a big smile. She passed away on Monday May 26, 2014 after a valiant battle with pancreatic cancer. “Athena was born in New York City,” according to local sources.

“She completed both her Baccalaureate and Master's work at Columbia University. She was employed for many years at the career counseling office at Columbia University, eventually becoming Director of Career Services. During her time there, she helped to guide and launch the careers of New York City's best and brightest scholars. Throughout her life, and into her retirement, she was a tireless volunteer for many charitable causes, most especially North Shore University Hospital and her beloved St Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Flushing, NY.”

“For her entire life, Athena served as an inspiration to those around her,” as was recorded in her local obituary []. “She always encouraged stepping out, trying new adventures, and taking the path that may have been less traveled, but always held the promise of fabulous destinations. Always present through all of Athena's adventures were her love of and faith in Christ and her steadfast dedication to her family. She is survived by her sister, Chrissie Arlis and her brother-in-law Anthony Arlis, of Port Washington, NY, as well as by her niece Stephanie Arlis-Mayor and godson Rowland Mayor, and their children Michael, Chrysanthi and Athena Mayor. She was pre-deceased by her loving nephew Harry Arlis. ….Funeral services were held on Thursday, May 29 at 11:30 AM at St Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Flushing, NY.Interment at Nassau Knolls Cemetery, Port Washington, NY. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in Athena's memory to the Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research (”

Athena Peters (left to right)) with Senator Frank Padavan and
AlekaTsinias at the St. Nicholas, Flushing Festival.

I lived down the block from Athena. In the late 1960’s, my grandmother, Despina, came home very happy. “I met a wonderful Greek lady,” she said. “I have a friend who speaks Greek with two wonderful daughters.” She was referring to Athena’s mother and her sister Chris Arlis. Through the years, Athena and Chris would tell me about their memories of my “Yiayia." They made me feel good that someone remembered her.

Athena (third from left) with Rev. Paul Palesty and co-workers

Athena Peters worked with Rev. Palesty for many years

Athena was an elegant person seen around our neighborhood. My husband, John, was always happy to have conversations with her. “I saw Athena,” he would say with feeling. She had a special quality of making persons feel good. Her presence in organizing St. Nicholas Church’s flea markets contributed to its outstanding success. Athena and her fellow workers would actually wash donated items.

Athena (second from left) with prominent persons and Festival co-workers.
Peters worked diligently on behalf of the William Spyropoulos School of St. Nicholas Church, when our daughter Despina attended. One day I saw her at the post office preparing a mass mailing for an alumnus project. Despina’s 8th grade class had a picnic at Principal Chris Arlis’ home. Athena helped organize the picnic and recreation activities. We were all impressed by their hospitality. Mrs. Arlis’ outstanding job at William Spyropoulos’ School, steering our daughter to become a physician, was encouraged by her husband Tony and Athena. They worked as a team, helping their mother, family, friends and community.

Athena Peters would greet local political leaders and the public at the St. Nicholas Festival. In 2013, she was not present. I saw her a few weeks later at the Bayside Lemon Tree beauty parlor. She had her beautiful smile. She expressed her regret of not attending my daughter’s bridal festivities, never letting on what was happening in her personal life. Community work with Rev. Paul Palesty was part of her life. She knew how to say a kind word to uplift a person, giving of herself to others. We have all lost in Aristotle’s words a friend who is wishing us well-wishes for our own sake.

(Posting date 15 August 2014)

HCS encourages readers to view other articles and releases by Catherine Tsounis in our permanent, extensive archives at the URL, in the section bearing her name.

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