Mercina Daskalakis

Philanthropist co-owned a cellular telephone business and was a donor to St. Demetrios Church and school

  • Mercina Daskalakis
Mercina Daskalakis (Baltimore Sun )
March 12, 2011|By Jacques Kelly, The Baltimore Sun

Mercina Daskalakis, who co-owned and operated a wireless communications business and became a donor to religious, educational and health charities, died of cancer Feb. 27 at Gilchrist Hospice. She was 69 and lived in Baldwin.

Born Mercina Vendelis in Baltimore, she was known as Cina and lived on Lehigh Street in Highlandtown as a child. Her parents owned the Busy Bee Restaurant in Northeast Baltimore and later the Bee Hive on Lexington Street in downtown Baltimore. She was a manager at the restaurant, which was patronized by City Hall, courthouse and postal employees.

After graduating from Eastern High School in 1962, she worked for the Olin Matheson Chemical Corp.

She was a member of the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation and belonged to its youth groups. There she met her future husband, John A. Daskalakis Sr. Throughout her life, she danced and won honors when she competed in events.

Mrs. Daskalakis worked alongside her husband and helped him establish a business, TRS Communications, based in their Jacksonville home. The couple established a network for two-way radios and cell phones and expanded their coverage area into 32 markets east of the Mississippi River. They had local transmitters and bought rights to radio airwaves. About 15 years ago, they sold the business to Nextel.

She then devoted much of her life to charitable causes. She joined the board of the Kennedy Krieger Institute. Earlier in her life she was a Sunday school teacher at the St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church in Putty Hill. She chaired the church life committee and was involved in the creation of the Chesapeake Youth Council summer camp.

"Over 10 years ago, the Daskalakis family endowed our beloved St. Demetrios Community, ensuring that the programming of our Church would continue for generations to come," said her priest, the Rev. Louis J. Noplos, in his eulogy. "This act alone was a milestone not only for St. Demetrios, but throughout the country, for even to this very day, there aren't that many people who endow the Church to that extent. When the time came to honor this family and Cina, they were most reluctant and extremely humbled and would have preferred to follow the words of our Lord when he said, 'May your charitable deed be in secret.'"

She endowed a church trust fund that enabled the congregation to hire a director of youth activities. She was also a benefactor of the congregation's bilingual day school. Its home, the Cina Vendelis Daskalakis Educational Building, is named in her honor.

"She would visit often and bestow her blessings upon the school and its staff," her priest said in his remarks at her funeral. "The legacy of Cina Daskalakis will always continue, especially upon this campus of St. Demetrios. There isn't any direction in which to turn where the hand of Cina and her family hasn't touched, from producing some of the first plays of the Suburban Players to the rededication of the newly renovated educational wing."

She and her husband were also benefactors of Drexel University, where an athletic center is named in their honor.

She was also involved in Leadership 100 of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America. She was also named a grand benefactor and board member of the Orthodox Christian Mission Center.

"My sister loved the beach and spent many summers in Ocean City. She and her husband and later her son would walk and collect mussels from the jetties and steam them for dinner," said her brother, Dr. Andrew Vendelis, a Timonium dentist.

The couple also had a home in Boca Raton, Fla. She traveled to the Holy Land and visited Alaska and Albania as part of her missionary work.

Services were held March 2 at St. Demetrios Church.

In addition to her brother, survivors include her husband of 49 years; a son, John A. Daskalakis Jr. of Owings Mills; her mother, Helen Vendelis of Timonium; and two grandchildren.

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