Catherine Callas Halkias August 2, 1925 — March 6, 2021 Catherine Callas Halkias was born in Brooklyn, NY on August 25th, 1925, the youngest child of the late Christos Callas and Stamatina Sotiropoulos from the Peloponnese in Greece. Her brothers, George Callas and Dr. Xenophon Callas, of NY, predeceased her. She attended historic Girls’ High School in Bedford-Stuyvesant, later graduating in 1947 from Packer Collegiate Institute in Brooklyn Heights where she studied Child Psychology.
Her professional aspirations were interrupted by the untimely death of her father, a proprietor of one of NY’s leading florists, Callas Bros., leaving her to run the business with her late uncle, Constantine Callas. Callas Bros. thrived under her stewardship: she became a gifted floral designer and a respected small business leader.
In 1952, she married Brig. Gen. Chris G. Halkias of Athens, Greece, a war hero and founding member of the Hellenic Air Force, and they had three children. In 1967, she sold Callas Bros. and moved with her family to Greece, where she enjoyed traveling, engaging with an international community, and immersing herself and her children in the culture of their ancestral country.
Upon her husband’s passing in 1996, she remained in Greece until she joined her eldest daughter’s family in suburban Washington, D. C. due to declining health. There, she enjoyed 17 fulfilling years engaged in a variety of interests and travel. She attended Holy Apostles Greek Orthodox Church of Loudoun. At age 95, Catherine remained active until shortly before her death. Surrounded by loved ones, she died peacefully on March 6th, 2021 of natural causes while in hospice care during a brief hospitalization in Leesburg, VA.
In addition to her talents as a designer and businesswoman, Catherine was an avid athlete in her youth and a mentor and camp counselor for Greek Orthodox teens. Her favorite pastimes were volunteering to help seniors, reading, cooking, hosting social gatherings and doing puzzles. She loved summers in Vermont with her son and his wife, where she enjoyed Sundays at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Shaftsbury.
A proud “Packer Girl”, she was an enthusiastic Class Correspondent. Catherine’s signature talent, creating stunning floral masterpieces, remained robust until her final days. Known affectionately as “Nana” to most in recent years, Catherine graced every occasion with her dignity, elegance, and warmth. Her stamina in the face of health challenges was impressive. Her outlook on life, informed by her Orthodox faith, was always positive. Everyone benefited from her kindness, and she delighted all with her humor and stories of life in Greece and early 20thcentury NY.
Her friendships were so strong that many considered her “family”. She was a devoted wife, mother, and grandmother who loved unconditionally, gave generously, and sacrificed without reservation. Catherine was predeceased by her husband of 44 years, Chris, in 1996 in Greece. She is survived by her three children, Nausicaa Halkias-Stoltz (Richard Stoltz) of Ashburn, VA, Daphne Halkias (Nicholas Harkiolakis) of Athens, Greece, and Telemachus Halkias (Angela Wingate) of Bennington, VT; and five grandchildren, Jason Halkias of Davenport, IA, Nathaniel Halkias Stoltz (Annie Laurie Nichols) of Greensburg, PA, and Alexi, Tatiana and Ariana Harkiolakis of Athens, Greece.
A private Greek Orthodox funeral will be held in Leesburg, VA on March 16th, 2021 to be followed by a private burial in Mt. Olivet Cemetery, Maspeth, NY. In lieu of flowers, donations in Catherine’s honor can be made to either the Organization for Autism Research, the Autism Self Advocacy Network, or Capital Caring Health.