Obituary of Tom and Connie Vanides
Pen pals at age 8, married in their 20’s, Tom and Connie were inseparable for nearly 71 years of marriage.
Tom was a New York City boy. Born June 7th, 1925 to parents Demetrius Aristides Vaxevanides and Alexandra (Daravanis) Vaxevanides, little Thanos would soon have two younger siblings, Aristides (Steve) and Artemis (Artie). Meanwhile, on the other coast, Connie was a San Francisco native, born January 23rd, 1926 to parents George Trigonis and Anastasia (Soulides) Trigonis. Little Constance was the much younger fourth of four siblings, Grace (Trigonis) Nofte, Mandy (Trigonis) Savides, and Floretta (Trigonis) Megas.
While they claimed it was not an “arranged” marriage, Tom and Connie were introduced by their mothers who were best friends from the “Old Country,” Greeks who lived in the same village “outside of Constantinople”. When Connie was born, Anastasia gleefully let her friend Alexandra know that, “I have a daughter for your son!” Whether it was in jest or wishful thinking, it happily came to pass. Tom moved to San Francisco and the two were married in 1948 - first in the Court House, and later a “proper” Greek Orthodox wedding on August 25th.
Connie was an Art Major at the University of California, Berkeley, and subsequently received a teaching credential. Tom, an avid reader and renaissance man at heart, longed for a career related to writing. This led to a job opportunity in the newly emerging Aerospace industry and a move to Southern California. Their first house was in Culver City, which was soon filled with three children - Alexia, Stasia, and James (Jim) George.
Tom’s technical writing evolved into a thriving Marketing/Communications career. He built a new home in Palos Verdes, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, where the family lived for 13 years. Throughout that time, Connie was active as a Girl Scout and Cub Scout troop leader for their children. Later, Connie ran a card and gift shop, The Paper Tree House. Tom liked to relax on the weekends doing projects around the house. Summers invariably consisted of wonderful trips inspired by Sunset Magazine, all proving to be an adventure, especially the infamous house-boat trip in the Sacramento Delta. Tom and Connie were loving and devoted parents.
After Alexia and Stasia graduated from high school, the Siren Song of running one’s own business captivated Tom and led to a move in 1971 to Palatine, Illinois. Connie found a job as an elementary school art teacher, but the adventure was short lived. Four cold winters later, after Jim graduated from high school, Tom and Connie headed back to Southern California.
Upon their return to Southern California in the late 1970’s, Connie and Tom joined the Presbyterian Church in Palos Verdes, Saint Peters by the Sea. Tom and Connie developed some of their closest friendships at Saint Peters; Connie also enrolled in a class about the Psalms and started writing her own poetry and inspirationals.
After retiring, they relocated to Vacaville, California, to be closer to Connie’s sister, Mandy. They continued to be active with church, making friends and hosting bible studies at their home. Sadly in 2011, their eldest daughter, Alexia Vanides Gentry, passed away after a short bout with cancer. In 2017, they left Vacaville for a Senior Living Community in Los Altos to be near their son. Connie quietly passed away July 26th, 2019, at age 93 - just shy of their 71st wedding anniversary. Tom passed away almost a year later, a “gentle landing” on July 7th 2020 at age 95.
Carrying on their Legacy of Love are their daughter, Rev. Stasia Van Buskirk and her husband Wade Van Buskirk, grandson Llew Richards with his wife Mica Richards and two great-grandchildren Grey and Téana. They are also survived by their son Jim Vanides and his wife Janet Vanides, grand daughter Joy Vanides Deneen with her husband Michael Deneen and great-grandson Henryk; also, grandson Aaron James Vanides with his wife Anne Schindel and great-grandson Alexander.
To join us in honoring their lives, we invite you to make a donation that reflects organizations they loved to support, including Palo Alto Friends Nursery School (www.pafns.org) or a House of Worship to promote adult education.