Vasiliki ‘Bessie’ Kassapidis, Beloved Wife of Dr. Anastassios Kassapidis, Has Died

December 29, 2022

NEW YORK – Vasiliki Kassapidis, or Bessie as she was widely known, passed away on December 27, at the age of 95. She was the beloved wife of the late Dr. Anastassios Kassapidis, who passed away just a few months ago on August 30.

The visitation will be held on Friday, January 6, 4-8 PM at the Antonopoulos Funeral Home, 38-08 Ditmars Blvd in Astoria. The funeral service will be held on Saturday, January 7 at 10:30 AM at the the Sacred Patriarchal and Stavropegial Orthodox Monastery of St. Irene Chrysovalantou in Astoria, officiated by the Metropolitan Evangelos of Sardes.

Speaking to The National Herald, her son-in-law, Dr. Spiro Spireas, founder, Chairman of the Board and CEO of the pharmaceutical company SigmaPharm Laboratories, said that the deceased was “one of the very few people I have met in my life who loved life. She was always thinking of doing things with her life. She never gave up, never felt like anything was over and always wanted to win. She never considered anything impossible to do.”

Dr. Anastassios Kassapidis and wife Vasiliki ‘Bessie’ Kassapidis. (Photo: Steve Lambrou)

As TNH had written in the tribute in her honor in October 2018, Vasiliki Kassapidis was born on November 23, 1927 in Lynn, Massachusetts. Both of her parents were from Mytilene. Irene, her mother, arrived in America when she was 21 years old. It was in the 1920s, when the immigrants arrived on Ellis Island for a better life, for the American dream.

As her mother had told her, the three weeks on the boat were the best of her life. Her father, Efstratis had come ten years earlier to America in 1910. The couple met and went to Boston, then Lynn, MA, where Bessie was born into the Tragellis family.

She had two brothers, Gregory, who was a lawyer and John, who was a doctor. Both served in World War II. Bessie had just graduated from school and worked at Harvard University Bookstore. She was an active member of the parish of the Annunciation in Boston. There, she met the late Archbishop Iakovos while he was the Dean of Annunciation Cathedral and worked with him for many years. Also in the early 1950s, she worked on the election campaign of John F. Kennedy.

Bessie’s father, Efstratis, had a restaurant, McBride’s, at Harvard Square, which was a popular hangout for the professors of the famed university. One of the shop regulars was also the brother of her future husband who was leaving Boston for Greece to arrange his immigration papers. “When he was leaving for Greece, he went to my father and said, ‘My brother is coming from Greece, call him so he’s not all alone.’ So I met my husband Tasso,” Bessie told TNH.

In November 1958, they married in Boston and moved to Brooklyn, as her husband Anastassios Kassapidis was working on his specialty as a surgeon at Wyckoff Heights Hospital, while Bessie worked as an assistant in the hospital’s emergency room, and for a while she worked at the Hunter College Library in Manhattan. The children came a bit later. In 1961, Sotiris was born, and a few years later Amalia, who later married Dr. Spireas. Both Kassapidis’ children also became doctors, following in their father’s footsteps.

Left to right: Bessie Kassapidis, Dr. Anastassios Kassapidis, Dr. Amalia Spireas, Dr. Spiro Spireas, Archbishop Demetrios, formerly of America, and Metropolitan Evangelos, then of New Jersey. (Photo: Steve Lambrou)

The family moved to Astoria in 1964, where Dr. Kassapidis bought a house and opened his own medical office. Bessie is always at his side and helps him with stitches, sores, biopsies as she has the knowledge and experience from the emergency department at the hospital in Brooklyn.

In 1976, Archbishop Iakovos asked Mrs. Kassapidis to work at the Manhattan Cathedral School and then applied for the post of president of the school board and joined the council. She stayed in the position for two years.

She was the rock of the house and a pillar at the doctor’s office and in addition to the role of mother, wife, assistant, and secretary, in 1984, she was also assigned to manage the buildings owned by the family in Flushing and Astoria. She rented out the apartments, supervised the buildings and the doormen in more than 200 apartments.

In the 2018 interview, she told TNH that she was proud and happy for her family and her four grandchildren, two from her son Sotiris, his daughter Vasiliki, named after her, and studying at the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine to become a doctor, and Anastasis, studying at Hofstra Law School to become a lawyer.

The other two grandchildren are from her daughter Dr. Amalia Spireas whose son Sotiris studied pharmacy and is now working at SigmaPharm Laboratories but is still considering becoming a lawyer. Granddaughter Mary is studying Pre Med, specializing in Chemistry.


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