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General News

Presvytera Mary Paloumpis Hallick, Author, Educator, Mother, Yiayia, 99

MILWAUKEE, WI – Presvytera Mary Paloumpis Hallick passed away on April 8. She was 99 years old.

A gifted author, educator, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, Hallick was born in Minonk, IL to Greek immigrant parents. Hallick shared her family’s story in an article titled The Christophilis / Paloumpis Family History, dated May 15, 2019 and posted on the Minonk Talk website. Hallick was 96 when she wrote the article, recording details her mother had shared with her and what she had learned herself during subsequent trips to Greece. Both sides of her family had that entrepreneurial spirit that brought them to America in the early part of the 20th century. They valued education and held onto their faith and their love of their homeland which they passed down to their children.

Her father Athanasios “Tom” Paloumpis was originally from Gardena, Kalavryta, and Sophie (Christophilis) Paloumpis from Kalymnos. Sophie was well-educated and trilingual- Greek, English, and French, and arrived in the U.S. with her father in late 1918. After immigrating to the U.S. in 1910, Tom and his younger brother Niketas (Nick) worked at various jobs, eventually learning candy-making and saving enough to buy a store that was for sale in Minonk, IL. They opened The Princess Sweet Shop in 1915. Hallick’s parents were introduced through a family friend early in 1921. Tom and Sophie married on October 30, 1921 in the Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church in Gary, IN. By 1931, the couple had three children, daughter Mary, and two sons, Andrew and Hercules, and they were able to travel to Greece to visit their remaining relatives.

Power of the Cross by Mary Paloumpis Hallick. Photo: Amazon

According to a 2003 article in Minonk Talk, the family also spent many summers visiting the Greek enclave of Tarpon Springs, FL, where Mary became friends with another Greek-American with roots in the Dodecanese, Faye Papafaklis, whose parents immigrated from Symi. Faye eventually married Alex Spanos, who became one of the wealthiest men in the U.S., perennially on The National Herald’s 50 Wealthiest Greek-Americans list. Mary and her husband Fr. Constantine Hallick were among the guests at the Spanos wedding in 1948 and remained close friends throughout their lives.

Mary had earned a doctorate in education, Ed.D., worked as a middle school teacher and principal of an elementary school before she retired as the Language Arts teacher for the eighth grade at Templeton Middle School. Her husband served parishes in the Midwest including Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Sioux City, IA, and Saints Constantine and Helen in Wauwatosha, WI, from 1968-1981. The cherished mother of Athanasia (Michael) Cahlamer, proud Yiayia of five and great-Yiayia of seven, Presvytera Mary was also loved by nieces, nephews, cousins and many, many friends. She was predeceased by her husband, Fr. Constantine Hallick, who passed away on March 6, 1981, at age 57, and daughter Constance Ramskugler, who passed on July 28, 2021, at age 70.

The Book of Saints by Mary P. Hallick. Photo: Amazon

The visitation and funeral service for Mary Hallick were held April 15 at Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church in Wauwatosa, with presiding priest of the community Fr. Panteleimon Dalianis officiating. Burial followed at Pinelawn Memorial Park Cemetery.

Among her many contributions and accomplishments, apart from being a devoted wife and mother, Presvytera Mary was also the author of several books, including The Story of Icons and The Book of Saints She was also the co-author of Sowing Seeds for Christ.

Her book, The Story of Icons, was written for young readers, ages 7-9, and asks “Where did icons come from? Why do we have icons in the Orthodox Church? Why are they painted so differently from other pictures? What do the parts of an icon symbolize?” Answering these and many other questions, Story of Icons is an excellent introduction to the meaning of icons and the part they play in worship. The book tells the story of the origins of icons, from the catacombs to the iconoclastic conflict and the triumph of icons commemorated every year on the Sunday of Orthodoxy. The second half of the book is devoted to explaining the icons for the feast days of Christ and the Virgin Mary, teaching youngsters how to “read” the icons to further illuminate the story that each one depicts.

Athanasios “Tom” Paloumpis married Sophie Christophilis on October 30, 1921. Their daughter Mary was born in 1923. Photo: Minonk Talk

The family shared their sincere thanks for the loving care of all of Presvytera Mary’s caregivers as well as the staff at Compassus Hospice and Palliative Care.

Presvytera Mary had many friends who loved her, her family noted in her obituary, adding that “considering her remarkable life, it was truly an honor to have her as mother and friend.”

The Orthodox Christian Women’s Association of Wisconsin: The Society of Myrrhbearing Women sponsors a scholarship awards program for Orthodox Christian women in honor of Dr. Mary P. Hallick.

Hallick’s books are available online, as is her article on her family history: https://bit.ly/3wOxAhU.

May her memory be eternal.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be sent to Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church, 2160 N Wauwatosa Avenue in Wauwatosa, WI 53213 or online: stsconstantinehelenwi.org.

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