Polytími Nikoláou, 86, of Dover, NJ, passed away peacefully on Thursday February 13th at St. Clare’s Hospital-Dover General, Dover, NJ, following a short illness. Polytími, ‘ Tími ‘, was born in Drama in Macedonia, Greece, and later emigrated to America where she became a lifelong U.S. citizen of Dover, New Jersey.
Daughter of the late Chrístos and Kalliópe (née Khálarēs) Papasávvas, she lived through the war years of Nazi occupation and communist insurrection in Greece, yet was able to persevere by the Christian Faith she was raised in, expressed by her motto “God First” — which she would often say in her native Greek, “Próta o Theós.”
In the early 1950s she taught herself English by reading newspapers, viewing the new medium of TV, and later by attending an English-language school in Morristown, allowing her to move from earlier occupations in restaurants and hospital food services to secretarial office duties. She thus became the first office secretary of St. Andrew Greek Orthodox Church, newly established in 1962 in Dover, NJ, and was one of the Church’s founding members. She was also a founding member of the St. Andrew Philoptochos Society, the Church’s communitywide aid and outreach, and received recognition as a past president of the society.
She was known for her vocal musical talent; and as a founding member of the St. Andrew Church Choir, she began studying the Koinē Greek hymnology, enabling her to assist as 2nd Cantor during Church services, also imparting this vocation to her husband, Stilianós ‘ Stélios ‘ Nikoláou, who with her also assisted as 2nd Cantor after St. Andrew Church moved to its present location in Randolph, NJ. In 1990, together they participated in the U.S. National Choir of the First Patriarchal Liturgy, under the auspices of the St. Sophia Greek Orthodox National Cathedral in Washington, DC , with Ecumenical Patriarch Demétrios I of Constantinople as primary celebrant, marking the first visit by a Patriarch and Archbishop of New Rome to the Western Hemisphere.
In addition, Polytími and Stélios attended Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in Randolph, NJ as well, a second Church home wherein early on she brought her children to worship with the Russian and Ukrainian community, thus making her family among the first in America to observe the interrelated communal life of Pan-Orthodox Christianity.
An outstanding baker and chef, her breads and Greek pastries were unsurpassed — at times sent cross-continent at the request of friends; and her one American specialty, apple pie, was second-to-none, with a homemade recipe which could have been inspired by Johnny Appleseed himself. She was happiest when making others happy, and always added animation to the conversation.
Her life was one of faith and love and encouragement for friends, family and whomever she’d meet for the first time, including foreigners and those of different cultures. Befriending a group of Persian and Jewish doctors, she was the “laughing lady” who would melt boundaries with her outgoing personality, treating them and any and all visitors to her Greek culinary delights. And smiles would arise, as many affectionately imitated her accent and referred to her as “an international figure,” a tribute for a special person with friends the world over. She was predeceased by her beloved youngest son, Chrístos Tsapatóris of blessed memory, and recently by her brother Pantelēs Papasávvas of Aigion, Greece. She is survived by her husband of 42 years, Stilianós Nikoláou of Dover, NJ; by her son, Demétrios-James Tsapatóris & his wife Vickie LaMoreaux Tsapatóris of E. Stroudsburg, PA, and by their three children, grandson Stéphanos Tsapatóris, and granddaughters Makaría Tsapatóris and Hannah Tsapatóris MacLeod with her husband Peter MacLeod and also their son, great-grandson Stylianós-Tristan, all of Philadelphia, PA; by her daughter, Kalliópe Kay Torres of Hawley, PA and by her two children, granddaughter Polytími Patti Torres of Hawley, PA, and grandson Patrick Torres with his wife Sasha-Alexandra Torres and also their daughter, great-granddaughter Natasha, of St. Petersburg, FL; and by her daughter in-law, Lori LoIacono & her husband Lino LoIacono and by their two sons, grandsons Matthew Chrístos Tsapatóris LoIacono and Joseph LoIacono, all of Randolph, NJ. Also she is survived by her sister Anna Argýris and her son, nephew Thános Argýris of Athens, Greece; and by her sister-in-law Magdalenē Papasávvas and her family of Aigion, Greece.
Visitation will be held on Monday afternoon February 17th from 3 – 5 pm at St. Andrew Greek Orthodox Church, Sussex Tpk., Randolph, NJ. The funeral will also be held at the St. Andrew Church on the following morning, Tuesday February 18th at 11 am. Burial will follow at Locust Hill Cemetery, Dover, NJ. In lieu of flowers, donations in Polytími’s memory to St. Andrew Greek Orthodox Church in Randolph, NJ would kindly be appreciated. Online condolences may be offered through www.smith-taylor-ruggierofuneralhome.com.