JANET (PAICOPOLOS) PALEOLOGOS – Of Woburn, Monday, September 21st. Beloved wife of the late Arthur A. Paleologos. Devoted mother of Nicholas A. Paleologos and his wife Patricia Worth of Lowell, Jonathan A. Paleologos and his wife Zulma of Methuen and David A. Paleologos and his wife Gayle of Lynnfield. Dear sister of Marie Manzi of Methuen, Helen King of Woburn, and the late Peter, Michael, Harold, and Spero Paicopolos, Mary Vespucci, and Rose Smithell. Cherished grandmother of Maria, Joey, Rose, Arthur, and Angelo. Relatives and friends are kindly invited to attend a Funeral Service on Thursday, September 24th at the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Church, 70 Montvale Avenue, Woburn, at 11 a.m. Calling hours will be held on Thursday from 9 to 11 a.m. prior to the Service. Interment will be in Woodbrook Cemetery, Woburn. Remembrances may be made in Janets memory to the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Church, 70 Montvale Avenue, Woburn, MA 01801.
I went to a dance at the Commodore Ballroom in Lowell, she told her sons. And thats where I met your father. He had no idea that I was Greek too! For Janet Paleologos, this proud exclamation was proof positive that she had made the triumphant transformation from daughter of immigrants to bona fide Bobby Soxer.
A bloody war with Turkey had forced her parents to leave their birthplace behind, and make a new life in America. Her dad worked tirelessly in the tannery down the street from their home while her mom tended to the backyard vegetable garden and the chicken coop while raising nine kidsa small slice of Greece on Conn Street in Woburn, Massachusetts.
The sixth child was given the name of the ancient Greek goddess of the harvestDemetra. When she arrived at the McGarr Elementary School, she couldnt speak a word of English. With the unofficial authority so typical of that bygone era, Demetras first grade teacher decided to call her Janetafter the American actress, Janet Gaynor.
By the time Janet Paicopolos arrived at the Commodore Ballroom, shed blossomed into a fiercely independent, statuesque brunette with a business degree from Bostons Fisher Schoolwhich she had earned at night. And she caught the eye of a young World War II veteran, fresh off PT Boat duty in the South Pacific. The young couple married in 1952 and made Woburn their home. Janet and her husband Arthur started their lives together in a small apartment on Pleasant Streeta stones throw from the stately Woburn Public Library. As their family grew to include three baby boomer boys, the newlyweds bought their first home on Franklin Street where Janet had lunch ready for her sons every day when they walked home from the nearby Plympton School.
For the girl who took such pride in the fact that her husband didnt realize it when they first met, their shared culture and religion cemented a lifelong loving relationship that revolved around family and church. Together with her four brothers and four sisters, Janet and Arthur were part of the growing nucleus of second generation Greek-Americans who formed the core of Woburns Greek community. Holidays, christenings, summer picnics, and teenage dancesthey all revolved around the church. And Janet loved every minute of it. She baked spinach pie for the Ladies Philoptochos Society, organized trips for the Mr. and Mrs. Club, and sang in the church choir.
Though a fervent Greek Orthodox Christian, her independent thinking shone through on many occasions. Once asked why she had a picture of Pope John Paul II hanging in her home on Rumford Park Avenue where she and Arthur spent the rest of their lives together, Janet replied simply, Because I like him.
Outgoing and fun loving, Janet would always say whatever was on her mind. At a high school play when her oldest was being strangled on stage she exclaimed from the audience (to his horror and everybody elses delight), Dont kill my son!
A few short years later when he ventured into politics she offered him some valuable advice. If you tell the people in the south end that Janet Paicopolos is your mother, theyll vote for you. He did. And they did.
Everybody loved Janet. She took great pride in the bond and accomplishments of all three of her sons, and she delighted in the exploits of her five grandchildren. Her spirit never flagged. She would easily complete the lyrics to Hoagy Carmichaels Two Sleepy People even as her memory faded. And her expressive face still easily exploded into joyful laughter.
In April, at age 91, she shed her walker and took to the dance floor just one last timeto celebrate her son Jonathan and Zulmas wedding. As she danced with grandson Arthur, her caretaker gently reminded her that it was time to leave. But its still early! she said.
As always, she was right. It was way too early.
Janet was predeceased by her husband, Arthur A. Paleologos; and her siblings, Peter, Michael, Harold, and Spero Paicopolos, Mary Vespucci, and Rose Smithell.
Janet Paleologos is survived by her three loving sons Nicholas, Jonathan, David and daughters-in-law Patricia Worth, Zulma and Gayle; her younger sisters Helen and Marie, and her grandchildren Maria, Joseph, Rose, Arthur and Angelo.
Relatives and friends are kindly invited to attend a Funeral Service on Thursday, September 24th at the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Church, 70 Montvale Avenue, Woburn, at 11 a.m. Calling hours will be held on Thursday from 9 to 11 a.m. prior to the Service. Interment will be in Woodbrook Cemetery, Woburn. Remembrances may be made in Janets memory to the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Church, 70 Montvale Avenue, Woburn, MA 01801.