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Lillian H. BordenMarch 21, 2017
To know Lillian Harriet Borden is to know love, courage, selflessness, humility and faith. Today we are celebrating her spirit and her life, which began in a humble home in Northern New Jersey with an angelic mother, Kalliope and her father, George, both natives of Crete. Lillian was especially proud of her maternal legacy, the Hatzidakis family, which included many famous scholars and the Academy Award winning composer Manos Hatzidakis. Lillian lived in the likeness of her mother. Kalliope was the personification of kindness, strength and faith. She raised her two children, Fred and Lillian, to work hard, have faith and be grateful for all of life’s blessings.
When Lillian’s brother, Fred, was accepted into medical school, Kalliope moved her two children to Brooklyn. Brooklyn became Lillian’s home. She worked as a seamstress to put herself through New York University, where she studied accounting. Lillian, just like her beloved mother, never let any obstacles prevent her from achieving her goals. She had to save twenty-five cents from her salary to pay for her subway ticket to NYU because she was determined to continue her education despite her father’s view that a woman did not need an education. She even helped pay for Fred’s medical school tuition. After completing her studies, Lillian began her professional career working for the eminent obstetrician Dr. Alfred C. Beck. During World War II her brother Fred served as a doctor in General Patton’s army in France. Lillian remained stalwart in her faith during this difficult time. Her prayers were answered when Fred came home safely.
In 1947, Lillian met Anthony Boreadis (later Borden), a Greek immigrant who was completing his radiology training at Bellevue Hospital. Anthony and Lillian’s great love story spanned forty-five beautiful years together; however, it did not begin with love at first sight. A mutual friend introduced them at a dinner dance at the Pierre Hotel in Manhattan. Despite his striking blue eyes, Lillian was not impressed with Anthony and thought he was too serious. In classic Greek tradition, her family and friends urged her to give him a chance and she agreed with hesitation to go to dinner with him. On their first date, Anthony took Lillian to the Waldorf Astoria for dinner, dancing and discussion. He opened up to her about how hard it was for a homesick foreigner and WWII veteran in the city that never sleeps. It wasn’t long before Anthony proposed marriage to the woman of his dreams.
Anthony and Lillian were married on June 30, 1949 at Sts. Constantine and Helen Church in Brooklyn, with a reception following at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel’s Starlight Roof. Lillian’s parents gave her and Anthony a car as a special wedding gift. They embarked on a romantic road trip to Canada for their honeymoon in their brand new Buick sedan. Soon after saying ‘I do,’ Lillian and Anthony moved to Philadelphia because Anthony was continuing his studies at the at University of Pennsylvania. While Lillian was incandescently happy with Anthony, she did not love Philadelphia and always remained a New Yorker at heart. Lillian worked as a bookkeeper for a surgical group at Hahnemann Hospital. The couple soon settled into a duplex on Olney Avenue. A few years later, Lillian and Anthony were blessed with a beautiful baby girl, who they named Maria Antoinette. Maria brought so much joy to their little house and Anthony and Lillian finally started to feel at home in Philadelphia.
One evening, many years later, a stranger knocked on Lillian’s door. He said his name was Alex Skylakon, and he asked if they would like to join a growing parish that was moving to the suburbs, Church of the Annunciation, in Elkins Park. Lillian applied her Brooklyn common sense and told him to come back later when her husband was home. Mr. Skylakon did return and Lillian and Anthony accepted his invitation to join the congregation, as they were planning to move to the suburbs soon. They quickly became loyal stewards of the Annunciation. Lillian taught Sunday School while Anthony was president of the Parish Council. They settled in the suburb of Rydal, Pennsylvania, in a beautiful ranch style home with a pool. And a few months later, they were blessed again with a handsome baby boy who they named George Anthony Frederick.
Living in the suburbs presented a new challenge for Lillian: getting around without a driver’s license. Lillian was used to walking everywhere or taking a taxi. In the suburbs this was impossible, so she decided to learn how to drive. Her brother Fred taught her how to drive in the family’s first Cadillac. Lillian was fiercely independent and driving presented a newfound freedom for her. She loved to drive and her vehicle of choice from the beginning to the end was a bright red Cadillac.
In 1970 a new Priest and Presvytera came to build a new church for Annunciation Elkins Park. Their names were Father John and Presvytera Elizabeth Limberakis. Lillian and Anthony quickly became very close with Father John and Presvytera Elizabeth, and together they built a magnificent Byzantine church edifice honoring the Theotokos at 7921 Old York Road in Elkins Park. Little did Lillian know that John and Elizabeth would transition from great friends to family sooner rather than later. John and Elizabeth’s youngest son, Anthony, fell in love with Lillian’s beautiful daughter, Maria. In 1975, Anthony and Maria were married at Annunciation Elkins Park. Lillian wore a glamorous pink feather boa and silk chiffon gown.
In 1976, Anthony became Commander of the Order of Saint Andrew. Lillian was his most steadfast supporter. Every month she accompanied Anthony to Manhattan for his meetings and always brought her famous homemade chocolate chip cookies. Lillian was also a leader in the Greek community in her own right. She was president of Philoptochos at Annunciation and she and Anthony became early members of Leadership 100. After Anthony went to heaven, Lillian even became the president of the Parish Council of Annunciation Elkins Park. She passionately led the effort to have the church consecrated in honor of her husband, who passed away in 1994. Despite her loss, she continued to set an example of living with courage and strength for her family.
Lillian became an amazing Yiayia in 1984, and in 1994, she rejoiced at the wedding of her son George to his wife Gina in Washington, D.C. She was blessed with five grandchildren and two great grandchildren over the years: John, Anthony, Elizabeth Lillian, Matthew, Nicholas, Anthony and Markos
Lillian was the ultimate supporter of her children and grandchildren’s educations and futures. She was so proud of Maria and George for their outstanding professional careers as a doctor and a lawyer, respectively. Lillian loved to travel and has seen the world with her children and grandchildren: London, Paris, the Holy Land, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Colombia, Aruba, Hawaii, Greece, Nassau, and many others. She especially enjoyed spending time with her family at her condominium in Florida.
Lillian was the most generous, selfless, loving Yiayia. She attended every event, from crew races, to dance recitals, to baseball games all while working full time as the office manager for her husband and son in law in their practice, Bustleton Radiology. Lillian made her grandchildren feel like they could do or become anything. She encouraged them to dream and fostered a sense of limitless possibility.
Lillian will forever be an incredible source of inspiration for her children, grandchildren and everyone who was blessed enough to know her.
Annunciation-Evangelismos Greek Orthodox Church
7921 Old York Road, Elkins Park PA 19027