Sarah V. Moralis dies at age 80

She was active in her church and enjoyed preparing Southern and Greek dishes for family and friends

August 10, 2010|By Frederick N. Rasmussen, The Baltimore Sun

Sarah V. Moralis, a homemaker who was active in the affairs of the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation, died Friday of Alzheimer's disease at Gilchrist Hospice Care.

The Hunt Valley resident was 80.

The former Sarah Vrachalus, the daughter of Greek immigrant parents who owned and operated a restaurant, was born and raised in Mobile, Ala.

After graduating in 1947 from Murphy High School in Mobile, she worked in the late 1940s for the Georgia Insurance Co. and Sears Roebuck & Co.

Mrs. Moralis met her future husband, Peter J. Moralis, who was an Air Force radar technician assigned to Kessler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Miss., when her father invited him for Easter dinner at their home.

"My father had received a letter from his mother reminding him that Holy Week and Easter were approaching and that he should attend services at the nearest Greek Orthodox parish," said a son, the Very Rev. Constantine Moralis, who is dean of the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation.

"He discovered that the closest parish was the Annunciation Church in Mobile, and while there, he was introduced to his future father-in-law, Costas Vrachalus, who was the chanter of that parish," he said.

"Costas had invited him to his house for the traditional Easter meal on Sunday. He was able to go to dinner, met Sarah, and from that point, life for them began," Father Moralis said. "Both would recount stories how they were never permitted to date alone — meaning always siblings or cousins were in attendance."

After Mr. Moralis was discharged in 1954, the couple married and moved into his parents' Hamilton home. They later moved to the York Manor neighborhood in Lutherville, where they raised their three children and lived for 50 years.

Mr. Moralis, a labor leader who later became area director for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees International's Maryland and District of Columbia district, died earlier this year.

"Because he did a lot of traveling, she was the primary family caregiver," Father Moralis recalled.

Despite having lived in the Baltimore area for more than half a century, Mrs. Moralis never shed her gentle Southern manner and gentility.

"She retained her Southern accent and was always a lady. She taught her children that being dignified was important," Father Moralis said.

Mrs. Moralis was an accomplished cook who prepared Southern and Greek cuisine with equal dexterity.

"On New Year's Day, we always had black-eyed peas for good luck, and at Mardi Gras time, king cake, both traditional Southern dishes," Father Moralis said. "Our house was never empty and friends were always invited for meals. Coming to the Moralis house meant you were going to eat well," he said.

Mrs. Moralis had been an active parishioner of the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation for more than 50 years.

"She loved her faith and was a devoted steward of the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation," Father Moralis said. "She raised all three of her children in the church, and all three are involved. Whether serving on the parish council, Sunday school or other capacities, the church has meant everything to us," he said.

Mrs. Moralis worked with many philanthropic organizations at Annunciation and enjoyed providing housing for visiting youth groups.

"She also loved being around the clergy and would put visiting clergy up in her home," her son said.

When her husband had worked for Martin-Marietta Corp. in the 1950s and early 1960s before joining AFSCME, the couple had lived in Germany, France and Greece for two years.

Mrs. Moralis, who had lived at her son's Hunt Valley home since 2007, enjoyed going "home" to Mobile, Father Moralis said, and vacationing at the family home in Ocean City, where "she would sit on the balcony for hours watching the surf and enjoying the fresh air."

Services for Mrs. Moralis will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday at her church, 24 W. Preston St.

In addition to Father Moralis, who lives in Hunt Valley, Mrs. Moralis is survived by another son, John Moralis of Mobile; a daughter, Angela Moralis of Mays Chapel; and five grandchildren.

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