Dr. Despina Tsirakoglou was born in Tsotyli, Kozani, Greece, in 1954. In 1958, at the age 4, she immigrated to the United States with her mother. Her father had already arrived in 1956 and had prepared for his family’s arrival in New York City, where they first lived.
The family eventually moved to West Philadelphia and were part of a new wave of Greek immigrants that were expanding into the suburbs of Delaware County. She grew up in Upper Darby and was part of the St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church community. Dr. Tsirakoglou graduated from Upper Darby High School in 1971 and went on to graduate from Villanova University in 1975, with a BSc degree in Biology, Pre-med.
In the early 1980s, she returned for a visit to Thessaloniki, Greece, where she met and married Dr. Nick Tsirakoglou. She settled into a position as a teacher at the American Pinewood School, where she taught 7th through 12th grades for two years before the two of them eventually moved back to the United States.
After returning to America, she went back to Villanova University and in 1982 received her MSc degree in Biology and Secondary Education. For one year, she taught 11th-grade Biology and 9th-grade Introduction to Physical Science at Cardinal O’Hara High School, and also 12th-grade Biology at Archbishop Carroll for Boys.
Eventually, she went back to medical school and graduated in 1990 from Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, and after a year of rotating Internship and two years of Family Practice Residency at Delaware County Memorial Hospital, she opened her practice in 1993.
For twenty-five years, as a family practitioner, she served thousands from around the area. She also gave back to her community by serving in many organizations and societies and became a household name for many Greek-Americans, and many ethnic immigrant families in Upper Darby and the surrounding towns. If you asked a friend to recommend a doctor, her name was always at the top of the list.
In January 2019, after so many years of dedication to her patients and community, she closed her practice, and with that, a generation of service as a family practitioner has come to an end.
Originally published on Cosmos Philly by Eleftherios Kostans. Video by Vasilis Keisoglou.