- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 28, 2005

Marion Kopsidas, 90, church leader

Marion Calomiris Kopsidas, a Greek-American church community leader and former president of the Salvation Army’s Women’s Auxiliary, died July 20 of pneumonia at Sibley Memorial Hospital in the District. She was 90.

She also was chairman of the Salvation Army Toy Shop and received the Salvation Army’s highest award for volunteerism.

Mrs. Kopsidas, who moved to the District from New York when she was 4, had a long history as a leader of Washington’s Greek and Greek Orthodox communities, and of the Salvation Army Auxiliary.

She graduated from Eastern High School in 1933 and in 1934 married John Kopsidas, who died in 1978.

In the early-1950s, she helped start the first Greek Church Food Festival in the D.C. area during her more than 50-year association with Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church.

In 1951, she became chairman of the Salvation Army Toy Shop, which she led until 1996. Throughout the years, she enlisted the help of first ladies, wives of Supreme Court justices, and other dignitaries.

In 1961, she became president of Pronia, the women’s charity group of the Greek Orthodox of Saints Constantine and Helen, an organization she had joined in 1941.

At the time, the archdiocese said all Greek Orthodox women’s groups should become members of the group Philoptochos, of which she became the first president.

After the assassination of President Kennedy, Mrs. Kopsidas supervised a staff of volunteers that responded to condolence letters sent to the White House from foreigners.

In 1967, Greek Ambassador Alexander Matsas, on behalf of the king of Greece, awarded her with the Order of Beneficence from the Government of Greece for charity and fundraising for the needy in the United States and Greece. She was the first American woman to receive the award.

Mrs. Kopsidas also served as president of the Salvation Army’s Women’s Auxiliary in 1970.

In 1971, she began the Greek Food Booth for the Salvation Army Garden Party to help raise funds, and she managed the parties until 1995. Her work was profiled in The Washington Times in 1997.

She personally presented her pastries to many first ladies, starting with Mamie Eisenhower. She hosted numerous parties at her D.C. home for dignitaries, including vice presidents, Cabinet secretaries, Supreme Court justices and the prime ministers of Greece.

In 1993, she received “Others,” the Salvation Army’s highest award, given to a volunteer for exceptional service. Four years later, she received the Lifetime Service Award to the Citizens of Washington, D.C., by the Salvation Army’s Women’s Auxiliary.

She is survived by a daughter, Margot Siegel of the District; a son, Stephen J. Kopsidas of the District; four grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

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