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Elizabeth “Lily” Kontos (1934-2023)
Elizabeth Kontos, fondly known as Lily, passed away peacefully on October 6, 2023, at her cherished home of 56 years in Rochester, New York. She was born Elizabeth Stavrou on November 5, 1934, in Alexandria, Egypt, where she spent her formative years creating cherished memories with her family.
Elizabeth emigrated to the United States in 1958 to pursue her education with a scholarship to St. Olaf College in Minnesota. However, it was in Washington, D.C., while studying at the American University, that she met the love of her life, Costas Kontos/Κοντογιάννης. They embarked on a beautiful journey together and were married in Philadelphia in 1963, building a loving family and sharing countless treasured moments.
An accomplished educator, Elizabeth earned a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and a Teaching Certification. Her passion for teaching was evident throughout her career, where she made a significant impact as a teacher, Greek Language School Principal, and Foreign Language teacher in the Greece Central school district. Her dedication extended beyond the classroom, as she played a pivotal role in establishing the Greek language regents equivalency exam in New York State.
Elizabeth’s culinary talents inherited from her mother were renowned, and she took great pride in her ability to create exquisite dishes and pastries. Her kourabiedes, galaktoboureko, melomakarona, baklava, karydopita, and apple cake were unrivaled, leaving a lasting impression on everyone who enjoyed tasting them. Her legacy of recipes will continue to be cherished and passed down through generations.
Beyond her professional achievements, Elizabeth was a pillar of her community. She embraced numerous leadership roles and served as president of the PTA, Daughters of Penelope, Philptoxos Society, Hellenic Cultural Society, and the League of Women Voters. Her dedication to language, education, community, and women’s rights left an indelible impact on those around her. She also hosted the Greek Hour radio program for many years, promoting her cultural heritage and fostering a sense of unity within the community.
Elizabeth possessed a vibrant personality and a deep love for literature. Fluent in English, Greek, and French, she engaged in stimulating discussions and immersed herself in the world of books. Her annual Greek Independence Day addresses showcased her pride in her heritage and her eloquence in expressing her thoughts.
Among her many remarkable qualities, Elizabeth’s warm and welcoming nature stood out. She hosted lively parties, dinners, and get-togethers with friends, creating an atmosphere of laughter and joy. Her grandchild, Eleni, held a special place in her heart. They shared a love for literature, and Elizabeth delighted in discussing George Saunders’s deadpan humor and other contemporary authors with Eleni, exchanging laughter and thoughts on these unique styles. Eleni also fondly remembers Elizabeth’s comforting and soothing massages, given with love and selflessness.
Elizabeth Kontos leaves a profound legacy of love, learning, and cultural appreciation. She will be deeply missed by her devoted husband, Costas Kontos; her children, George (Ting), Mary (Brian), Evy (Mark), and Christina (Kenneth); her grandchildren, Eleni Kontos, Alex, Luke, and Elisabeth Thurber, Zoe and Ana Matteson, and Noah and Chloe Hanson; her sister, Dina Kalman, and a wide circle of family, friends, and community members.
A Funeral Service will be held at 11 AM on Friday, October 13, 2023, at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Rochester, NY, followed by interment at White Haven Memorial Park in Pittsford, NY.
Elizabeth Kontos will be forever remembered for her zest for life, her unwavering commitment to her family and community, and her profound impact as an educator and cultural advocate. May her soul rest in eternal peace, and may her memories continue to bring comfort and inspiration to all who knew her.