As idealistic young adults, George Papazicos and Kaliope Kentrotas signed up as counselors in the summer of 1976 to help at-risk children of New York City at a summer camp run by the Hellenic American Neighborhood Action Committee.
But the two Queens natives got much more than satisfaction from their acts of good will: They fell in love, married, raised two daughters, settled on Long Island and were inseparable for 42 years — until their deaths recently at NYU Winthrop Hospital in Mineola.
George and Kaliope Papazicos, who lived in Garden City for 28 years and died four days apart on April 4 and April 8, respectively, are among the thousands of New Yorkers who have succumbed to the coronavirus.
He was 64. She was 62.
“They were always looking to help others,” said daughter Christine Papazicos Sabato of Wilton, Connecticut. “Callie was great with people, which led her to develop long-lasting friendships. George had a big smile and lived to entertain others. This desire and interest in helping others continued throughout their lives.”
George Papazicos was born to Athanasios and Mary Papazicos, the eldest of two sons and a daughter. He was raised in Jamaica, attending public schools and graduating from the Brooklyn Technical High School before earning a degree in math from Queens College. He later earned a law degree from Columbia Law School.
The former Kaliope Kentrotas of Flushing was born to Antonios and Toula Kentrotas, and she had one younger brother. She graduated from Jamaica Day School of St. Demetrios and Queens College, earning a degree in communications.
George was an attorney for more than 35 years, and he worked as the U.S. head of tax at Equitable Life before retiring in 2017. Before his legal career, he was a math teacher at the former School of the Transfiguration of the Savior in the Corona section of Queens.
“George was always very driven and wanted to put together his love of math and business,” their daughter said. “After he obtained his law degree, he began working in corporate tax.”
Callie, as Kaliope was affectionately called, worked as a travel agent for 40 years and retired at the end of 2019.
“Callie started working at a travel agency at age 16 and fell in love with travel,” Sabato said. “Even after she retired at the end of last year, she continued to help others as she began her travel plans for her first year of retirement.”
As their careers took off, their daughters arrived: Maria DellaCorte, now of Miller Place, in 1985, and Sabato, in 1987.
Their signature traits were different but complementary — George, the math whiz, always challenging people with puzzles and never at a loss for stories to make people laugh; Callie, a master baker of Greek cookies, who loved to make people feel at home and comfortable.
“George and Callie were devoted parents and were very involved in their daughters’ lives,” Sabato said. “George served as both a basketball and soccer coach, and Callie had been a Girl Scout leader and had been involved in the Garden City PTA when their daughters were in school.”
Committed to careers and family, the couple found time to help others, displaying the same altruism that brought them together at that summer camp.
“They led by example, showing their kindness and generosity to others, as they participated in various charitable activities,” Sabato said. “George would participate in fundraising tournaments and Callie would frequently help at the Mary Brennan INN Soup Kitchen.”
They were devoted to their church community at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of St. Paul, where George had served as a former parish president and Callie had served as president of Philoptochos, a national women's philanthropic society.
Besides their daughters, the couple is survived by Kaliope Papazicos’ parents, Antonios and Toula Kentrotas of Flushing; George Papazicos’ mother, Mary Papazicos of Franklin Square; Kaliope’s brother, Andreas Kentrotas of Douglaston; George’s brother, Nick Papazicos of Monroe, and his sister, Irene Papazicos of Franklin Square.; six grandchildren; and several aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews.
A graveside funeral service was private, but relatives plan a memorial service in the future.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be sent to the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of St. Paul in Hempstead.