Mary Constantinides, retired businesswoman

August 02, 1994|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,Sun Staff Writer

Mary Java Constantinides, a businesswoman and homemaker who had a deep love and appreciation for her Greek heritage, died July 24 of heart failure at her home in Clearwater Beach, Fla. The former Harford Road resident was 78.

She had worked alongside her husband of 54 years, Louis Constantinides, at the Eagle Coffee Co., where he had started his career as a truck driver.

He eventually became owner and chairman of the board of the coffee importing and roasting firm and retired in 1988. The family business is now operated by two sons.

"My mother worked as office manager with my father at Eagle and helped oversee the operation and development of the business," said a son, John S. Constantinides, a lawyer who lives in Hampstead.

Mrs. Constantinides was born in Baltimore, the daughter of Greek immigrants from Karlovasi Samos, who emigrated to the city in 1910.

Her father, who operated a leather goods factory, took his only child back to Samos after the death of his wife during the flu epidemic of 1919.

She received her education there, returning to Baltimore in 1935 and working as a cashier for her uncle, George Sapounas, who operated Harford Cleaners.

After marrying her husband in 1940, she settled into the life of a homemaker, rearing four sons and assisting her husband in the operation of the Boston Restaurant on Paca Street from 1942 to 1946.

"The word that describes her family is tightness," said another son, James L. Constantinides, a psychologist with Baltimore City schools.

"She passed down the culture, religion and food which were the reflections and echoes of her family who came here from Greece. All of those things meant family unity, and she didn't want us to lose that. She was still that way at the end of her life.

"I remember when I could hardly see out of the car window and we'd drive by the University of Maryland at College Park and she'd say, 'That's where you're going to college one day,' and two of my brothers did. She placed a great value on education," he said.

"After retiring to Florida with her husband, she enjoyed watching the Gulf of Mexico from the windows of her home and the climate there reminded her of her childhood home on Samos," said her son James.

She was active in the affairs of the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation and was a member of the Daughters of Penelope. She also enjoyed sewing and dancing.

In addition to her husband and two sons, survivors include two other sons, Nicholas S. Constantinides of Cockeysville and Arthur S. Constantinides of Glenarm; and nine grandchildren.

The family suggested memorial donations to the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation, 24 W. Preston St., Baltimore 21201, where services were held Thursday.

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