Paraskevi Helena Orriss (née Liakos)
Frieda Helen Orriss
1941 – 2017
Suddenly you were gone….
From all the lives you left your mark upon..
My mother was born in 1941 in Athens Greece. She was a child there in the midst of the Nazi occupation. While my grandfather was an American citizen they were unable to leave Greece until the end of the war when the US Embassy and American Consulate had opened again. When the war ended they came to the United States through Ellis island where her Greek name, Paraskevi (which translates to Friday in Greek) was exchanged by the workers at Ellis island for an ostensibly more American sounding name, Frieda (which also translated to Friday). For some strange reason the people working at Ellis Island didn’t seem to comprehend that giving an immigrant a German name in post World War II America probably was not the wisest choice. Some time after arriving in New York the family decided to move to the West Coast and eventually settled in Modesto California.
My mother graduated from Modesto High School.. worked at local stores and stayed close to her parents. One day her older brother, my uncle Jim, introduced her to a classmate of his from the Naval Academy. That man was the person who became her husband and later my father. Understand that my mother came from an old world Greek family and any suitors had to meet with parental approval. My mother once told me about when my Yiayia (Greek for Grandmother) met my father for the first time and what Yiayia had said about him… she only had one thing to say…
“You need to stay with this one. He will take good care of you.”
In the 54 years that followed she was there with and for my father through good times and bad; including Dad’s two tours of duty in Vietnam, six children, and multiple cross-country road trips driving from one duty station to another over the course of his career. His final duty location put him at Mare Island Naval shipyard and they moved to Napa California. Later after my dad retired and started working at Shell Oil and we started growing up and moving out my mother started working at nursing homes to help pay for Yiayia’s stay at the homes as Yiayia’s health started to fail. But what she found was that she enjoyed the work and became a Certified Activities Coordinator with the state of California (yes you need a certification to do that work in nursing homes). After Yiayia passed she continued that as her career. Her final job before retiring herself was in the care of retired veterans at the Veteran’s Hospital in nearby Sonoma, California. In 1999 they moved to Enumclaw and retired. In her spare time she loved gardening whenever she could both floral and edible. She loved yard sales, old thrift shops and I can’t remember a single time in our travels when she wouldn’t stop if she found an antique shop and look around. She loved cooking and passing along recipes to her family. And, of course, her husband and family she loved most of all…
Rest In Peace mom. We all love you.
Αιωνία η μνήμη
“Aionia i Mnimi”