September 8, 1926 - March 5, 2021
Beloved and compassionate mother and grandmother of incredible character, resilience, generosity, and kindness, Athenoula Zulakis passed away on the morning of March 5, 2021, of natural causes, at the age of 94. Born on September 8, 1926, in the village of Agios Myron, on the island of Crete, Greece, to George and Maria Leparakis, after suffering her father’s tragic death during WWII, the eldest sister to 5 siblings bravely left her family to travel to Iowa at age 20 to meet her prospective husband Michael, by prearrangement, thanks to a favorite aunt. Michael provided a round-trip ticket, but there was no turning back, and the two were married within 30-days, as the law required. A passionate reader, a believer in the value of education, and a devoted participant in the democratic process, she strove to assimilate and earn her right to vote. She took night classes to learn to speak English for her American citizenship while establishing and caring for her family. She was tested again experiencing the painful loss of her husband to cancer before the later loss of her eldest son Emanuel, who died tragically at age 29 of cancer. A cancer survivor herself, she courageously took treatments while working full time to support her family. She was employed for many years in lady’s alterations at Armstrong’s department store in downtown Cedar Rapids, where her charm, personality, work ethic, and skill helped her establish lasting friendships and earned both colleagues’ and superiors’ respect. Eventually promoted to department manager, the store’s closure forced Mrs. Zulakis into early retirement. In a cruel twist of fate and a further test of her grit and fortitude, she lost her home of 53 years to the devastating floods of 2008. Showing steadfast and undaunted strength, with the help of family and friends, she resettled on higher ground taking in alterations at home. Even with limited means, she was a woman of great hospitality and welcomed patrons, friends, and neighbors. Her door was perpetually open. She always had candy, cookies, and delicious Greek delicacies on hand to share along with stories, and cherished photos of her children and grandchildren. Always the last to sit at the table, she was a generous, consummate host and inspiring cook, serving lunches and dinners well into her 90s. She set the table for many friends, neighbors, and fellow parishioners of St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church, her spiritual home. Mrs. Zulakis follows husband Michael, son Emanuel and grandson Nicholas in death. She is survived by son George and daughter-in-law Judge Laura Baird of Douglas, Michigan; son Jim and daughter-in-law Holly Hynes of Teaneck, New Jersey, and two granddaughters – Zoe and wife Dr. Sydni Coleman of Minneapolis, Minn., and Katina and husband Joshua Harris of Queens, NY; as well as two grandsons – Michael and his wife Miriam Shire of Irving, Texas, and Christopher of Teaneck, NJ. She is also survived by two siblings, sister Kaliope Papadakis and brother, Elias Leparakis in Athens, Greece. The family wishes to thank the many friends who checked in on her and assisted her, especially during the last year, as her health declined. We also thank the staff at St Luke’s Hospice who provided care and comfort during her final days. Visitation: 6 – 7 p.m. on Monday, March 8 at Murdoch-Linwood Funeral Home, 520 Wilson Ave. SW, Cedar Rapids. Trisagion service: 7 p.m. Monday, March 8 at Murdoch-Linwood Funeral Home, 520 Wilson Ave. SW, Cedar Rapids. The family asks that visitors observe social distancing at all times. Funeral service scheduled for 11 a.m. CST. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the service is reserved for immediate family only and will be livestreamed at https://www.facebook.com/stjohncr/. In lieu of flowers, we welcome donations in her name to St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church, 501 A Ave. NE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52401.
Beloved and compassionate mother and grandmother of incredible character, resilience, generosity, and kindness, Athenoula Zulakis passed away on the morning of March 5, 2021, of natural causes, at the age of 94. Born on September 8, 1926,... View Obituary & Service Information
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