OBITUARY OF ANASTASIA NICHOLAS KOSTARAS THIMIS
Anastasia Nicholas Kostaras Thimis peacefully fell asleep in the Lord surrounded by those who loved her on Sunday, November 22, after a long illness. Known to all as “Tassia,” she was born in Patras, Greece on April 13, 1930. At least that’s what her social security card and passport say! Records of her birth went up in flames with the family church in Patras, which burned down sometime during the early 1940s. One of ten children, her parents lost track of the exact dates of their children’s births, which was not uncommon at the time. In 1947, when Tassia applied for papers to travel to the United States, her mother could only recall that she gave birth to her sometime in the Spring of 1930. So she was given the option of selecting her own date of birth and thus she settled on April 13.
Her father, Nicholas, was a policeman who loved to cook. And he was good at it! They say her mother, Angela, came from royalty. The story goes that Angela’s grandmother brought scandal on the family when she fell in love and ran away with the family coach driver and was summarily disowned. Angela was an excellent seamstress who saved up her earnings until she was able to purchase a restaurant for her husband. “Taverna Nicholas” became the most popular place to eat in the city of Patras, and surrounding area.
Tassia grew up in that restaurant and, as a little girl, she stood atop a stool so she could reach the sink to wash the dishes. When the German Army occupied Greece in 1941, the officers commandeered her father’s restaurant as their headquarters, knowing they would always have access to the best food in town.
One night she witnessed her father being beaten by the officers when they discovered the curtain was off the skylight in the restaurant during black-out hours. They accused him of sending signals to the Allied forces. On many occasions, she witnessed people suspected of working for the resistance strung up by the Nazis in the town square.
She was a fearless tomboy who never backed down from a challenge. Among the many stories she would tell us, there was the time she was on an errand to deliver a key to a family friend stranded in their town during the war. As she was running in the street, she was stopped by a German soldier, who demanded to know what she was doing out alone in the dead of night. Frightened by the soldier, she dropped the key. When she went to pick it up, he trampled on her thumb with his hobnail boot. After that incident, the nail on that thumb never grew out properly.
Tassia’s was the quintessential story of the “American Dream.” She came to the United States in one of the last waves of War Brides from World War II. That same family friend she was delivering the key to, promised to send for her and arrange with her parents to marry her nephew when the War was over. By the time the friend returned home, her nephew, Timothy, had already become engaged to someone else. By chance there was another Timothy, whose fiancé had broken off their engagement because he had been injured in the War. So in 1947, when she was just 17 years old, all alone, and carrying nothing more than a small suitcase and the clothes on her back, she embarked on one of the last flights out of Greece to America, Land of the Free and Home of the Brave! She had a roundtrip ticket that her future husband sent to her. “Round-trip” in case she got cold-feet! And, truth be told, it was not love at first sight when she met Private First Class Tim Thimis. But, being an impetuous young woman, she decided to marry him anyway! She had come too far to face the embarrassment of returning to Greece a spinster with the prospect of being housemaid to her four brothers. As it happens, it turned out to be a good choice. That union produced four children who survive her – Veronica Gekas, Gust Thimis, Nick Thimis, and Angela Thimis – along with many grandchildren and great grandchildren. Her loving marriage endured until the death of Tim in 2015, and continues in Heaven.
Not knowing a word of English, she adapted quickly to her new life in America. She worked a number of jobs ranging from peeling tomatoes in a canning factory to sewing for a quilt maker to managing a department in a local retail store.
She was courageous and smart and funny and strong and loving and spunky. She was full of life and her smile would light up a room. She was a kind and generous person who would give you the shirt off her back. She was a devoted wife and mother, who loved her children more than life itself and would, as she would say, “scrub floors for them!” And she did.
She was a proud Godparent and 60-plus-year member of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Camp Hill, past board member, a member of the Ladies Philoptochos Society, and active participant in the annual Greek Festival and other ministries of the Church. As Philoptochos president, she led a team of ladies who held numerous bake sales at the Farm Show and Harrisburg Mall that raised enough funds to donate the Church’s beautiful Ikonastas in just one year’s time. In her last years, she was a parishioner of Holy Apostles Orthodox Church in Mechanicsburg. Like her father, she was an excellent cook and baker of Greek cuisine and delicacies. She also was an avid traveler, expert knitter, part-time gardener, and cut-throat poker player.
Her family expresses their deep thanks and enduring gratitude to the numerous caregivers and hospice aides, who helped her daughter, Angela, and son-in-law, Joseph Baxter, care for her… particularly in the last 2 ½ years of her life. Among them were: Angela, Amanda, Rhonda, Robin, Jessica, Tiana, and most especially her nurse, Helen, who would speak Greek to her, bring her baklava, and make her laugh! They also extend sincere appreciation and thanks to the Very Reverend Father Timothy Hojnicki, for ministering to her in her final years of life.
Services will be held Wednesday, November 25 at Holy Apostles Orthodox Church, 7111 Wertzville Road, Mechanicsburg. Viewing at 10am, Funeral Service at 11am, Mini-Mercy Meal at Noon. Burial will be at Rolling Green Cemetery, Camp Hill at 1:30.
In lieu of flowers, her family requests that Memorial donations be made to Holy Apostles Orthodox Church, 7111 Wertzville Road, Mechanicsburg, PA 17050 or Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, 1000 Yverdon Drive, Camp Hill, PA 17011.
May her memory be eternal!
The Sullivan Funeral Home is honored to serve the Thimis family.