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J.A. Panagiotidis, mom who helped build business, dies

Jill Ann Panagiotidis, a Commack mother of five who helped her husband build up their construction business, has died after a five-year battle with ovarian cancer, her family said. She was 44.

Her illness was diagnosed in September 2005 and she died March 19 at Hospice Inn in Melville, where she spent the last week of her life, said her husband, Paul Panagiotidis, 43.

"She was all about other people," he said. "When she was dying in the hospital, she would tell me to go home and rest. It was never, ever about her. It was about the kids and her family."

Panagiotidis was born Oct. 30, 1965, in Farmington, Mich. Her family moved to Long Island when she was a toddler, her husband said. She graduated from Jericho High School in 1983, then from the New York Institute of Technology, where she majored in psychology, he said.

After graduation, Panagiotidis worked for the Young Adult Institute as a counselor helping young men and women with developmental and learning disabilities live independent lives.

In 1993, Panagiotidis became pregnant with the couple's first child and stopped working full-time, turning her attention to helping her husband with Total Home Construction Corp. in Plainview.

"I remember when Jill was in labor with our first child . . . I had my office phone calls forwarded to my home, and she answered every call during labor and she never complained about it," her husband said.

On the weekends, Panagiotidis loved to go boating on Long Island Sound with family members, he said.

And, like her husband, she was a huge Yankees fan, he said. Although Panagiotidis was weak, her husband said she muscled enough energy to attend Game 6 of the World Series.

In addition to her husband, Panagiotidis is survived by her children, George, 16, Nikki, 13, Paulie, 12, Kalli, 11, and Samantha, 7; her father, James Howell, and mother, Judy Howell, both of Jericho; a brother, Scott Howell of East Meadow; and a grandmother, Pearl Gruskin of Tamarac, Fla.

Panagiotidis was buried March 25 at Pinelawn Memorial Park.

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