Despina Fikaris, was born on May 29, 1927 in Vrondathos, Greece. Her parents, Dimitrios “Jimmy” and Aspasia Payavla immigrated to the United States when she was very young, eventually settling in Houston, Texas. Despina, her parents, and her brother, Socrates Payavla, were devoted, life long, members of the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Houston. Despina grew up in the family restaurant business and she graduated from Sam Houston High School.
Despina met the love of her life, Vasilios “Bill” Fikaris in Columbus, Ohio. They quickly fell in love and they were married not once, but twice, with the “official” wedding taking place in the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral on June 14, 1953. Bill and Dee had four children, three boys and one girl, and they raised them in Southwest Houston. Bill and Dee were excellent cooks and they owned and operated several restaurants in the Houston area over the years. Dee eventually went to work for the Houston Independent School District, West University Elementary, where she retired in 2004. Dee was the administrative assistant to the Principal, John Threet. Mr. Threet would often call Dee’s children to tell them, “I think I’m in trouble with mom again.”
Dee’s love and devotion to her church was evident by the many hours she spent doing volunteer work. Dee and many of her very close Greek friends spent many hours starting Houston’s Original Greek Festival over 50 years ago. Dee was one of the first Co-Chairpersons, overseeing food preparation. Some of her Greek recipes can still be found in the Greek Gourmet Cookbook, published by the church. During the Greek Festival, you could always find Dee with her apron and name tag on. Dee was eventually “promoted” to the gift shop where she was the chairperson for many years. When called upon by the parish priests, Dee was always ready to serve, spending many hours at the Houston Medical Center as an interpreter for international Greek patients.
With a smile on her face and joy in her heart, Dee loved taking care of her family more than anything else. Dee was a devoted and loving wife for 56 years. Dee set an example for her children and raised them to be strong willed, outspoken, independent thinkers. Dee’s Christian beliefs and strong family values were instilled in her children and her grandchildren. Dee never let an opportunity go by to have family and friends over for fellowship. Holidays were always special to her, especially Easter, where tables were set with fine china and crystal and dinner would be served at the Fikaris house.
Although the effects of dementia eventually took over Dee’s mind, the purity in her heart was still there. Dee greeted everyone with her infectious smile, letting everyone know, in her own way, that everything was going to be all right.
Despina is on her journey to be reunited with her husband, Vasilios; her loving granddaughter, Diana Lioliou; her dear brother, Socrates Payavla; and her sweet great nephew, Michael Payavla. Despina is survived by her children; Harry and Sheila Fikaris, Jimmy and Julie Fikaris, Michael and Vicky Fikaris, and Maria Fikaris Colwick. Despina’s loving grandchildren; John and Rachel Fikaris, Stephanie Fikaris, Nicole Lioliou, Katie Fikaris, Victoria Lioliou, Eleni Fikaris, Gracie Colwick, and Vasili Fikaris. Despina’s great grandchildren, who most recently brought joy in her life, include Daniella Johnson, Luke Fikaris, and Ellie Fikaris. Extended family includes Anna Payavla, Dimitry and Karen Payavla and their son, Nicholas, Callie Payavla, and Marcus Payavla.
Pall Bearers: John Fikaris, Dimitry Payavla, Marcus Payavla, Dino Iconos, Paul Loupakos, and Sam Dutherage.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in the name of Despina Fikaris to the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral, 3511 Yoakum Blvd., Houston, Texas, 77006.