Bessie Zantopoulos A Passion for Caring
Bessie Zantopoulos was born Despina Vasiliades in Massillon, Ohio, in 1929, the oldest of three daughters from immigrant refugees from the Pontos region of Ordu Turkey. In Ohio, her family briefly settled in a large Pontian community that grew around the coal mining industry before moving to West Philadelphia.
Her family was one of the founding members of the Pontian “Akritai” of Philadelphia. A photograph of her Aunt Elpis, who launched the organization from her home, sits at the entrance to the local clubhouse in Upper Darby.
At eighteen, as her family wished, she married George Zantopoulos, raised a son Nicholas, and started her life as a homemaker in the community.
Bessie was baptized at St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Philadelphia where her family was first members. She joined the newly formed St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church community of Upper Darby where, as one of the first Presidents, she began a lifelong dedication to the Philoptochos.
Congressman Bilirakis of Florida where she lived for twenty-five years, sighted her for her dedication to St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and the Greek community of Tarpon Springs.
Today, she is a member of the St. Luke’s Greek Orthodox community of Broomall, where she continues to work behind the scenes as a Philoptochos member. Through Philoptochos and in the name of the church, Bessie has volunteered with CHOP, Hospice, and the church visiting the sick, elderly, and those in need of companionship. Bessie served on the Philoptochos National Board as well, organizing aid throughout the Tarpon Springs, Florida and Philadelphia area.
When your passion is caring for those without, there is never a shortage of work. Bessie is dedicated to making sure nobody feels unloved, all in the name of a higher power.