Despina “Denise” Panos
Entered into Eternal Life on Thursday, November 9, 2023 at the age of 94. Cherished Mother of George (Mary Beth), Georgia (John) Wieseler, Charles, and Leah (John) Sorenson.
Loving Yiayia of Alex (Sinead) Wieseler, Lauren (McCabe) Buege, Katherine (Marco) Pavoloni, Jacqueline, Tyler, Peter, Christian, Christina, Madeline, Natalie, Dan (Jessica) Gawronski, Mark (Laura) Gawronski, and Megan (Sam) Beres. Special Great Yiayia to Evan, Jake, Jameson, Reagan, Max, Demi, Primrose, Chase and Aurora. Godmother to many Godchildren and dear sister to Theodora (Lola). She was preceded in death by her husband Christ and her sister Aphrodite.
Despina was born in the central mountain area of Greece in the small village of Krokilion. At the age of 14, the war led her to Athens where she went to stay with her older brother and his wife. Despina’s father had spent some time in America before she was born and always spoke highly of the country. Relatives recall how Despina dreamed of coming to America from a young age and was determined to have a better life here. Finally, at the age of 21, she received the news that her papers had been approved and she joined her Aunt and Uncle in Springfield, MA. A short time there, followed by time briefly in Miami, allowed her to meet a Greek boy from Milwaukee at a Greek gathering. This Greek boy, Christ, soon became her husband in 1953 and in the years to come they were blessed with 4 children.
Despina’s priority in life was always her Faith, Church, and Family. She prioritized religious holidays and volunteering at church events. She was a member of the Annunciation Philoptochos for over 70 years and served a term as President. She was also a member of the Baking Angels, Daughters of Penelope, and well known as a Greeter at the Annunciation Church. Her perpetual smile and welcoming attitude was her trademark. Her most cherished role in recent years was that of Yiayia. Spending time with her children and 10 grandchildren brought her great joy. She never missed calling the first of every month for a ‘Kalo Mina’, baking pita, or cooking up a Greek meal upon request. She was always that loving Yiayia in the kitchen.
While she lived her life in America, she never forgot her homeland. Despina returned for numerous visits over the years to reconnect with her family and friends in Greece, including a meaningful pilgrimage to Constantinople with the St. Photios Greek Orthodox National Shrine organization. St. Photios remained an important organization in her life as it was dedicated to the first colony of Greek people who came to America.
Visitation will be held at ANNUNCIATION GREEK ORTHODOX CHURCH, 9400 West Congress Street, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53225, on Monday, November 20, 2023, 9:30 AM – 11:00 AM. Service at 11:00 AM. Burial to follow at Pinelawn Memorial Park.