XENOS, HELEN

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XENOS, Helen

A longtime downtown Springfield small businesswoman, fell asleep in the Lord on December 30, 2021. She was born on May 21, 1928, in the Village of Angona on the Island of Kefalonia off the west coast of Greece. She came from a large family. The family was close their entire lives. They kept in touch even when separated by thousands of miles. As a small girl Helen was taught to sew. Upon completing high school Helen furthered her education working as an apprentice to a seamstress in Athens. Through this extensive training, Helen became a seamstress in her own right. On December 28, 1958, she married Nicholas Xenos who was then a US citizen, leaving Greece to immigrate to the United States and join their numerous cousins in Springfield, Ohio. Helen began employment as a seamstress at the Wren's Department Store in downtown Springfield. In 1973 Helen opened her own business, the Silver Thimble, on the first floor of the Tecumseh Building and later moved to the First National Bank Building eventually retiring from that location. For decades Helen took good care of the clothing alteration needs of many of the citizens of Springfield. Her customers became like family to her. Helen was a very active member of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Church of Springfield and of its Ladies Philoptochos Society. Her husband Nicholas served as a Chanter there for almost 60 years. They rarely missed a church service. As a young girl Helen learned valuable cooking skills that she continued to perfect into an art. Her meals were legendary among family and friends. One of Helen's greatest pleasures was to hostess dinner parties at her home for family and friends whatever the occasion. Whenever a visiting priest was in town, he and his family would always find an open door and a warm meal at Nick and Helen's home. They were always the most gracious of hosts. Another of Helen's remarkable aspects was her incredible memory. Helen never forgot a birthday, anniversary or patron saints' day of each member of her large extended family. Without fail she would deliver a plate of her fabulous Greek pastries to the home of the lucky celebrant. Helen's remarkable memory served her so well she was the person everyone consulted to recall all dates and relationship questions regarding dates of weddings and baptisms, etc. Helen and Nicholas were the ideal married couple. They were always supportive of each other's work. They were always cheerful and happy. They loved to laugh. They rarely talked about the trauma they suffered starting when Helen was 12 and Nicholas was a 23-year-old private in the Greek army. Kefalonia is a gorgeous, picture-perfect island. It was a paradise to young Helen and Nicholas. That ended abruptly on October 28, 1940, when Mussolini's armed forces invaded Greece from Albania which is close to Kefalonia. Total war followed. Nicholas and his fellow soldiers counter-attacked and sent the invaders retreating deep into Albania. This was the first allied victory on European soil in World War II. This victory electrified the world because it proved the Axis Powers were not invincible. The fighting in Albania dragged on all winter. It was the coldest winter in decades. Years later Nicholas remembered the horrible cold and continuous fighting. On the Home Front, Helen's family sent food, warm blankets and anything else they could spare to support the soldiers. Hitler invaded Greece to aid his ally Mussolini which delayed Hitler's invasion of the Soviet Union by two months. This led to 4 years of brutal occupation of Greece which lost 10% of its population. Helen and her family suffered hunger. She told of a boy who was shot for stealing a loaf of bread from the occupying army. Helen recalled picking what seemed like the last of field greens for her family to eat. The next morning a miracle would occur. New greens would sprout overnight to provide another day's sustenance for the family. The small Island of Kefalonia was the site of the massacre of 5,000 Italian soldiers of the Acqui Division who refused orders to report to a POW camp when Mussolini was overthrown. Hitler personally ordered them all to be murdered. Helen remembered seeing the hillsides of her beautiful, beloved island covered with dead bodies. The Axis troops retreated at the end of 1944. Further tragedy followed when communists' factions tried to take over Greece. The Greek civil war followed until 1949. The Greek military finally defeated the communists and sent them retreating across the Albanian border with American supplied arms, but no US combat troops. Helen had just turned 21 and had already had firsthand experience of the trauma of WW II at her doorstep. Despite this horrific childhood history, Helen never let that color the love she shared with all who knew her. Enduring and overcoming her history of war and tragedy to live a life of extending love to all is indeed her legacy. Helen was preceded in death by her beloved husband, Nicholas in 2012 (pictured above), her parents, a sister, Irene, a brother, Gregory and brother-in-law, Mike Haralamos. She spent the last four years of her life in the home of her sister Akrivi (Mike) Haralamos in Cincinnati who along with her daughter Nickie (Bryan) Brown and son George (Eleni) Haralamos took extraordinary care of Helen as her health declined. She leaves behind to cherish her memory here sisters Akrivi of Cincinnati, sisters Joya, Viktoria and a brother Panayi of Greece, special niece Nickie (Bryan) Brown and special nephew, George (Eleni) Haralamos and numerous nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews. Funeral services will be held on Friday, January 7 at the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Church at 1127 East High Street, Springfield. The family will receive friends and relatives starting at 10:00 AM. The funeral service will start at 11:00 AM. The services will be conducted by Father Dumitru Rusu and Father Demetrios Gardikes, her nephew. The family requests that attendees wear face masks because of covid. Burial will be in Ferncliff Cemetery. The memorial luncheon will follow at Linardos Villa at 2230 East Main Street, Springfield. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, contributions be made to The Greek Orthodox Church c/o James H. Lagos, Treasurer 5057 Troy Road Springfield, Ohio 45502.