Tassie Ladas was born on July 24, 1926 in Bisbee, Arizona. She was the proud daughter of Greek immigrants and part of one of the first Greek families in the state of Arizona with her father arriving to Bisbee in 1917, a mere 5 years after Arizona achieved statehood. She passed away in the early morning of October 20th, 2023, at the age of 97, in Phoenix, having lived her life as one of the few true native Arizonans.
Tassie had a loving reputation in the family for being extremely thorough and disciplined in all ways and as such, she wrote, in part, her own words for her obituary for “when the time comes”. It reads as follows: Tassie was the eleventh child of Charles and Pitsa Ladas. One child, Peter died in infancy. She was later preceded in death by her sisters Fannie Ladas Katsenes, Mary Ladas Johnson, Sophie Ladas Herlyck, and Christina Ladas Ioannou. Her five other brothers also predeceased her: Paul, James, Clements, Harry, and Louis, as well as nieces Katherine Katsenes Nicholas, Jessica Herlyck Clark, Evelyn Ladas Panos, Melani Ioannou, Pamela Powell, Brenda Deines, nephews John Ioannou and Jim Bedal. She is survived by her beloved sister, Stella Ladas Glitsos, 20 nieces and nephews, 40 great nieces and nephews, and 33 great-great nieces and nephews.
She attended Central School in Bisbee and was taught by the first-grade teacher Miss Wittig, who also taught every one of the Ladas children. Tassie had a lifelong respect for Miss Wittig. The family moved to Phoenix in 1936 where she attended grammar schools Monroe and McKinley, and graduated from Emerson Grammer School in 1941. She attended Phoenix Union High School and graduated in 1945. Her business career began after graduation as she was employed by the former auditor of the State of Arizona, Ana Frohmiller.
Tassie left that position to pursue a career with the Federal Government, beginning with the Regional Office of the Veterans Administration, then the General Services Administration, United States Soil Conservation Service, and retiring from her last position with the United States Secret Service.
After her retirement, Tassie began a second career working at various candy stores. She had developed a love for chocolate candy because her father owned, operated and made his own candy at the Lyric Confectionary when they resided in Bisbee.
Although those were our Aunt Tassie’s words, there is always more to a person’s life and it is an honor to convey what a wonderful, unique woman she was, and how her wisdom and intelligence touched us. She was our “third parent” and Godmother to many. Her generosity and unconditional love for her family was legendary.
Tassie was of the generation who lived through the Great Depression, then WWII, having four brothers serve and one lose his life just days before the ceasefire. She was fiercely loyal, fighting her older sister Stella’s battles if she thought there was an injustice done. She was the family historian, understanding how special it is to preserve the family information. She truly spent her life helping, caring and guiding her many nieces and nephews, caring for her aging mother and later living with her widowed sisters so none of them would be alone.
Tassie’s parents were among the original Greek families to establish the first Greek Orthodox Church (now the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral) in Phoenix and she and her brothers and sisters had a lifelong commitment to the church and the Greek community. As a young woman she was an active member of the Daughters of Penelope and the ladies benevolent organization, the Philoptochos. At that time, the church was the hub for the Greek families and Tassie spent the rest of her life in friendship with the many women she grew up with and whose families were part of that first wave of Greek families in Phoenix. In her elder years, she was instrumental in establishing the museum at the Cathedral, helping to chronicle the origins of the church and the families who came together to build it. She was very proud of her time working for the Secret Service and as children it was exciting for her to show us how to tell if money was counterfeit and how you knew where it was minted. She was a sportswoman too, bowling, golfing, shooting pool, and enjoyed watching all types of professional sports. She was a woman ahead of her time in many ways. She was courageously independent, intelligent, well-read and a lifelong learner. She touched more lives than she could ever imagine. She was interesting, inquisitive and even in her final days, she was in touch with reality and kept up with what was going on in the world and she did not hesitate to comment on some of those things. She never held back from speaking her brilliant mind. She was a force in our lives that will be deeply missed.
We’d like to give special recognition to family members for their care and help with Aunt Tassie, and their constant presence and support for her, especially sister Stella and nephew Jack Herlyck and his wife Janet, who made sure she had what she required, helped with navigating her daily needs and decisions, and allowed her to pass with the dignity she deserved. Thank you also to the other nieces and nephews who helped her, and those who always remembered her and made special efforts to visit her, even traveling from out of state.
Aunt Tassie, on behalf of your surviving sister, Stella, and your many nieces and nephews, we love you and are so very grateful for the privilege of having had you in our lives and all the love you gave us. We will all be together again.
Services will be held Friday, November 3rd at the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral, 1973 E. Maryland Avenue, Phoenix, Az. 85016, with Visitation at 10 AM, followed by funeral service at 11 AM. Burial to follow at Greenwood Memory Lawn Cemetery in Phoenix. Donations may be made in Tassie’s memory to Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral.