Coping with Grief
We would like to offer our sincere support to anyone coping with grief. Enter your email below for our complimentary daily grief messages. Messages run for up to one year and you can stop at any time. Your email will not be used for any other purpose.
Anthoula Zissimos (née Dimakakos), of Swarthmore, PA, formerly of Wilkes-Barre, PA, and Brooklyn, NY, passed away at the age of 98 on January 26, 2024, following a brief illness. Born on December 5, 1925, in a remote mountain village high above Sparta, Greece, where the road ended and picturesque mountains rose all around, Anthoula was a cherished member of the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Wilkes-Barre, PA, and St. Luke's Greek Orthodox Church in Broomall, PA. She also contributed her time and talents to the Annunciation Philoptochos, serving a term as president, and was an active member with the Order of the Eastern Star.
Though never formally recognized as a professional chef, Anthoula's culinary skills were a cornerstone of her identity. Known for her mastery of Greek cuisine, her aginares, lagana, moussaka, spanakopita, diples, and baklava were celebrated by friends, family, and even strangers fortunate enough to enjoy her cooking at various gatherings. For 30 years, she and her beloved husband, Michael John Zissimos, operated Calamata Grocery in Wilkes-Barre, PA. The store became renowned for selling Anthoula's homemade Greek dishes, drawing in customers eager to experience her culinary creations. Her recipes also frequently graced the pages of the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, further endearing her to the local community.
As a teenager in Greece, she helped her family survive the Italian and Nazi occupations during World War II. After the war, she left her idyllic yet challenging life in the mountain village and stayed with an older aunt and uncle in Athens, where she refined her cooking skills and mingled with Greek society. In 1952, she boldly decided to move to the United States in search of a better life. She settled in Brooklyn, NY, and became an avid Brooklyn Dodgers fan. In 1956, a cousin of hers suggested that she go to Greece to meet a State Department employee who reportedly looked and sang like Perry Como. Interested in such a proposition, she took an ocean liner back to Greece to meet her future husband: Michael John Zissimos. They married in Greece and decided to return to the United States in 1958. They had their beloved children Maria and John in Brooklyn before moving to Wilkes-Barre and purchasing Calamata Grocery in 1968.
In their Calamata Grocery, Anthoula and Michael not only shared their exceptional food but also their infectious humor. Their playful interactions and light-hearted pranks brought a unique warmth to every visit, making the store a hub of joy and laughter.
Shockingly active through her final days – perhaps no nonagenarian used the phone more than Anthoula. Her friends and family reported often getting a busy signal when trying to call her. A true Spartan until her final day, Anthoula lived on her own in the Strath Haven Condominiums (where many neighbors became great friends) and was cooking until mere weeks before her passing – sharing lagana with her grandsons George and Michael, and aginares (artichoke hearts) with her entire family for Christmas.
Anthoula was most proud of her family – including her two children and six grandchildren. When she and Michael decided to close Calamata Grocery in 1998, they moved to Swarthmore, PA, to be close to their daughter Maria and her three children, as well as Michael’s sister Angeliki and her son Peter’s family. There, Anthoula and Michael were able to spend a great deal of time with their grandchildren (who called them Yiayia and Pappou) and grand-nephews and grand-niece (who called them Thea and Theo), carting them back and forth to church and Greek School, teaching them Greek, and feeding them delicious Greek food.
Anthoula was a wonderful grandmother, mother, aunt, godmother, and true friend to so many. She had a relentless and funny spirit and, despite being 98 years old, everyone was shocked to hear the Spartan had passed. She will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved her. She is predeceased by her beloved siblings – Potaki, Lukeia, and Stavros.
Survivors include her loving daughter Maria Zissimos and loving son John Zissimos; six grandchildren Cassandra, Michael, and George Kyriazis, Alexandra, Ellie, and Katie Zissimos; loving nephew Peter Panagiotis Atsaves; loving daughter-in-law Pamela Zissimos; loving son-in-law Arthur Kyriazis and loving niece-in-law Kristina Cole. Loving sister-in-law Marika Demas of Chicago, Illinois, and family. Many loving friends and family, including great-nieces and great-nephews.
Funeral Service: Friday, February 2 at 11 a.m. at St. Luke’s Greek Orthodox Church, 35 North Malin Road, Broomall, PA 19008.
Viewing: Friday, February 2 at 10 a.m. at St. Luke’s Greek Orthodox Church, 35 North Malin Road, Broomall, PA 19008.
Interment: Oak Lawn Cemetery, 1250 S. Main Street, Wilkes-Barre, PA 18706. Saturday February 3 at 12:00 pm.
In lieu of flowers, donations to St. Luke’s Greek Orthodox Church, Music Ministry, 35 N. Malin Road, Broomall, PA 19088
St. Luke Music Ministry
35 N. Malin Road, Broomall PA 19008