Athena Panagis Constantinou, 89, died Saturday, May 5, 2018. She was born in Tarpon Springs, Fla. to the late Costas and Catherine Panagis. She was a first-generation American-born descendant of Greek immigrants who originally hailed from the Dodekaniese Islands of Greece, Halki and Calimnos.
Athena grew up in the Greek cultural mecca of Tarpon Springs, where she was valedictorian of her high school. After attending an all-girls school in West Virginia, she transferred to Stetson University. She married Michael Constantinou in 1950 and moved to North Carolina to start a family.
Athena began working at Duke University for the renown Dr. Kemper, until relocating to Greensboro for business opportunities; working for 25 years with Dr. A.J. Tannenbaum until his death. She retired briefly before returning to work at a Greensboro fertility clinic. Athena retired in 2008 and moved to Durham to be closer to her children. She was proud of having been a medical technologist for over 60 years.
A devoted Greek Orthodox parishioner, Athena served as a member of Philoptochos at Dormition of the Theotokos Greek Orthodox Church in Greensboro, and volunteered faithfully at their annual Greek Festival and other charitable events. She was a Metropolitan representative of the Southeastern Division of Philoptochos and a lifelong member of the Daughters of Penelope. Most recently, she was a parishioner of St. Barbara Greek Orthodox Church in Durham.
She enjoyed cooking, particularly family dinners that brought everyone together for discussions of their days. She was a regular guest on the Greensboro WFMY TV show, “What’s Cooking Today? with Cordelia Kelly.” She made Christmas pastries and meals for her children’s friends throughout their attendance at the University of North Carolina Greensboro. She loved gardening, tending the roses and zinnias that were staples of her back yard. Athena was happiest at the beach and always wanted to be a beachcomber. She enjoyed travel to Europe and once to the Holy Lands.
Athena instilled in her children a desire to finish what you start and do good work while helping others. After Mike’s death in 1980 she gained strength to support her children and herself. She was an avid voter, making sure to cast ballots in every election possible.
Left to mourn her passing are her children, John, Costa, and Catherine (Wes Platt, husband); her grandchildren, John Michael and Athena; sisters, Alex and Helen; and several nieces, nephews and grandnieces. In her final months, she was assisted by loving caregivers Shirley Hodges and Annie Walton, who also mourn her passing. In addition to her husband, Athena was predeceased by her sister Lula.
Funeral services will be 11:00 AM Wednesday from St. Barbara Greek Orthodox Church. Athena will be laid to rest in Forest Lawn Cemetery, Greensboro. Friends may visit 6-8 PM Tuesday at Hall-Wynne Funeral Service with the Trisagion service at 7:00.
Memorial gifts may be made to St. Barbara Greek Orthodox Church Philoptochos. Very special thanks to Transition Hospice; Melissa Graf and Elonda Womble.