It Takes a Family to Comfort a Family
Harry Frank Fotiou
Harry Frank Fotiou was born to Fotis and Efthalia Fotiou in Kakavia, Albania, a village adjacent to the Greek border. Though the family lived in Albania, they were ethnic Greek. Harry was just a young boy when Albania was occupied by German troops. The family felt fortunate that their only casualty of war was Harry’s dog Hector, who was shot by a German soldier.
When the German troops withdrew, a communist government came to power and Efthalia began planning for the family to escape across the border. One day she saw that the guards were not in position and ordered Harry’s older brother Chris to run across. The next year when Harry was nine it was his turn to make the run. The guards saw him and started shooting. Harry made it across but his friend who attempted to follow unfortunately, did not share the same fate.
Once Harry was across the border he was reunited with his brother Chris, and the two sustained themselves on birds and small animals. After a time, Harry was picked up by a truck sent to collect all the children without families and take them to an orphanage in Marathon, Greece. Harry spent his time at the orphanage studying, doing chores and singing in the church. He was grateful for the care and education he received at the orphanage and his time there helped shape his views on truth, kindness and self-reliance that he would carry throughout his life.
When Harry became old enough, he joined the Greek Navy. He would have made the Navy his career, but Harry’s parents and younger siblings had escaped across the border, and they were reunited. Harry and his family were sponsored by a church to emigrate to Morgantown, WV.
In Morgantown, Harry spent one year in high school learning English, all the while working jobs to help the family in their newly adopted country. He then took a job in which he learned carpentry and soon after became a proud citizen of the United States. Harry also met a young lady named Louise-Zoe Raptis. On their very first date the two hit it off and Harry announced his intentions for his life; to have a home, a wife, children and to own his own business. He proposed to Louise right then and she accepted. They were married just a few months later. The couple had two children and eventually opened their own business, Harry’s Laminated Products which they successfully ran for the next 45 years. In the interim they moved to Newport News, VA to be closer to their children and family.
Harry felt a true patriotism toward his adopted country that perhaps only a refugee can feel. A regular feature of his daily routine was to march with his dog to the flagpole in front of his business and proudly raise the Stars and Stripes.
Harry was very active in sports and donated his time coaching soccer as well as playing tennis and running marathons. He was also devoted to his church. Harry and his brothers diligently worked the Greek Festival at Saints Constantine and Helen Church for several years. After Harry retired he became a chanter during church services.
Harry is preceded in death by his infant son Frank Fotiou, his parents Fotis and Efthalia Fotiou and his older brother Chris Fotiou.
He is survived by his loving wife of 60 years, Louise-Zoe (Raptis) Fotiou; daughters, Christine Fotiou Vassilakos (Greg) and Marina Fotiou Burke (Ron); grandchildren, Anthony Burke (Courtney), Alexa Burke Stone (Charlie) and Sophia Vassilakos; great-grandchild, Winne Burke; brother, Ted Fotiou (Joellen); sisters, Cleo Pileggi and Pandora Moehle (Sarkis); and numerous loving nieces and nephews.
Harry was a sincere, humble soul who managed to touch so many people’s lives. He will truly be missed.
A Trisagion Service will be held at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, June 17, 2021 at Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church, 60 Traverse Road, in Newport News, followed with a funeral service at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, June 18, officiated by Rev. George Chioros, at the church. Interment will follow at Peninsula Memorial Park.
Arrangements are under the care of Peninsula Funeral Home, 11144 Warwick Blvd., Newport News, VA 23601.