Helen M. Nolas

Helen M. Nolas passed on Wednesday, January 16, 2019, in Tallahassee, Florida. Helen’s γνωμικό (motto) was that in all our endeavors, we should act with καλή καρδιά (a good heart). Helen had καλή καρδιά.

Helen was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on April 29, 1932. She was the only child of Vassilios, an accomplished chef, and Chrysavgi, both Greek immigrants. Helen’s father passed when she was a teenager, shortly after he had befriended Demetrios (Taki), a young man from Epirus, Greece. As a child, Demetrios lived through the fighting, occupation, and famine of World War II. His family sent him to Argentina during the subsequent Greek civil war. When Demetrios met Helen, he was smitten. The two would later marry, a marriage that would last six decades.

Helen and Demetrios had two children, Vassilios (Billy) and George. In the 1960’s, the family (Helen, Demetrios, the boys, and Chrysavgi) immigrated to the United States, settling in Queens, New York. Demetrios and Helen were skilled furriers, and Helen’s specialty was as a “finisher”. Eventually, they set up their own shop, Demetrios B. Nolas Fur Co., Inc. They earned respect for the personal care they gave their customers, and the quality of their work.

In their early years in New York, Helen and Demetrios were members of the Transfiguration of Christ Greek Orthodox Church in Corona, Queens. Later, they were members of the Sts Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church in Jackson Heights, Queens. While devout, Helen also followed St. Basil’s philosophy of taking in what is best wherever it is found. Fluent in Greek, Spanish, and English, Helen was an avid reader, reading at least two books a week throughout her life on a wide range of subjects.  She was fond of movies and theatre, and could recite multiple plots with ease.  She enjoyed rock and roll, and could quote lyrics from Elvis Presley, The Doors, Bob Dylan, and the Rolling Stones. She was devoted to her mother, Chrysavgi, who lived with the family until her passing in 1980. Helen adored her husband, Demetrios — the two were inseparable. She was a loving mother to her children, and a wonderful Yiayia to her grandchildren, Sophia and Melina, to whom Helen was also Godmother.

Helen moved to Tallahassee, FL, after Demetrios’ passing in 2015, where she was a member of the Holy Mother of God Greek Orthodox Church. She earned the affection of her church community, as she did from everyone with whom she came into contact. Her priest aptly described her as a “gladsome light” (φως ιλαρόν).


Helen asked that donations be made to Food for the Poor (foodforthepoor.org) by anyone wishing to honor her or her husband Demetrios. She is survived by her son Billy, a career public defender representing people that the government seeks to execute, by Billy’s spouse Julie and their children Sophia and Melina, and by her son George, a physicist and professor at the University of South Florida, and his spouse Cheryl.


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