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General News

Flora Vekiarides, Prominent Greek School Teacher is Mourned

December 16, 2020

NEEDHAM, MA – Flora (Haniotis) Vekiarides, 88, of Needham, MA, formerly of Dedham, MA, passed away on December 3. She was born in Piraeus, Greece to the late Nicholas Haniotis and Pigi Karas on June 9, 1932. After growing up in Greece, Flora emigrated to Boston, Massachusetts in 1960. She came to live with her mother in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston and began a teaching career by leading Greek courses at the Boston Center for Adult Education. She married the late Paul Vekiarides in 1965 and they lived together in Boston’s Roslindale neighborhood until 1988 before moving to Dedham, MA. Flora is survived by her son Lazarus Vekiarides and wife Anastasia, her son Nicos Vekiarides and wife Renee, as well as her five grandchildren: Paul, Julia, Anna, James, and Andrew. Flora was predeceased by her loving husband Paul in 2012. Flora was immensely passionate about education, and made it her priority to teach the language, history, and culture of Greece. She worked for many years in the Greek Bilingual Program of the Boston Public Schools, but will be most remembered for her role as Director of the Greek School at the Cathedral of the Annunciation in Boston. There, she spent nearly 40 years instilling an appreciation of Greek in the children of many thousands of first- and second-generation Greek American families. ‘Kyria Flora’, as she liked to be called, will be remembered for bringing to life the Greek language, history, and culture for much of the Greek Diaspora of the Greater Boston area. Flora was also abundantly proud of her family. She passes on her love of education to her children and grandchildren and leaves behind many wonderful memories. The Funeral Service was held on Monday, December 7 at the Gardens of Gethsemane in West Roxbury. Due to the pandemic and the families’ care and concern for family and friends, funeral services and burial were private.

Her son Lazarus in a eulogy speech said, among other things, that “Mom grew up in a time and place where teachers were a highly respected and dignified profession, and she really carried that dignity. She delighted in teaching Greek. She first started in the early 60’s teaching conversational Greek at the Boston Center for Adult Education. Her class was so popular that they kept adding new classes for her, completely filling up her weeknights. As small pre-school kids, she would shuttle Nick and myself to her classrooms scattered all over the Boston area – Roslindale, Brighton, Winthrop, etc. – where we would sit quietly off on the side of the class, and either work on coloring books or soak in the Greek lessons that she gave to first and second graders. That became a 6-day workweek for her when the Cathedral opened a Saturday morning session in the late ‘70s. To this day, random people will tell me that they remember Nick and I sitting in their Greek School class. She had many opportunities to do other things, but her order of priority was always 1) take care of her family’s needs, and 2) Greek School. Indeed, this is where she touched many people’s lives and I think where she will be most remembered outside of the family.”

He also wrote that “every parent imparts certain traits onto their children that make them who they are. I know that for us and our mom, one such trait was public speaking. We grew up watching her stand in front of classrooms and crowds and deliver lectures and speeches. When I remember her in her prime, I think about all of the big Greek School celebrations she would MC, standing up onstage in front of hundreds of people, with his Eminence and the Greek Consul sitting in the front row of the audience. This was where she was in her element. (I’m still struggling to find more photos from some of these events, as I think this is how she would like to be remembered.) I would assert that much of the success of my own professional and academic career has had to do with that speaking ability that she modeled for us so tirelessly. If you haven’t noticed, Nick and I aren’t afraid of standing up in front of crowds.”

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