Vasiliki Spyropoulos, 94, known to family and friends as “Kiki,” died at home, with family by her side, on Oct. 14, 2018. Born in Kavala, a small city northeast of Thessaloniki, Greece, in January 1924, the youngest of Vasilis and Mary Apostolides’ nine children, she lived in Greece during the tumultuous 1940s, witnessing the Nazi occupation and the Greek Civil War, knitting socks for Greek soldiers. She attended the University of Thessaloniki and graduated with an MD degree in 1954.
After graduating, she moved to the U.S. to attend a postgraduate medical course on Welfare Island (now Roosevelt Island) in New York City, then at Elmhurst General Hospital in Queens. While in New York, she met and married Kodros Spyropoulos, a fellow Greek physician who had emigrated from Athens, Greece in the 1950s. She became a U.S. citizen in 1962.
She practiced medicine in New York City for over 30 years, including unit director of a substance abuse center in the Bronx, helping heroin abusers overcome their addictions.
After retiring, she returned to Greece and lived in Palaio Faliro, a suburb of Athens on the shore of the Aegean Sea, where she enjoyed theater, travel, knitting, cooking, and going out with friends. Taking art classes, she discovered her artistic talent. She worked with colored pencils, producing vibrant sketches and illustrations of people, still-lifes, and landscapes.
Returning to the U.S. in March 2012 to be closer to her daughter, Mary, she moved to Oak Park where she settled into a retirement community. She continued to knit and draw, contributing blankets to Project Linus and producing beautiful portraits of family, friends, pets, and public figures, including President Barack Obama. In April 2014, she gave a portrait of President Obama to Congressman Danny Davis for delivery to the President as a personal gift from her.
A lifelong cat-lover, plant enthusiast, and passionate fan of classical music, she greatly enjoyed visits, calls and letters from her grandchildren, children, nieces and nephews. Her interest in medicine never faded; she continued reading medical newsletters and advising family members on healthy living tips throughout her life.
In addition to her daughter Mary (Jeff Stocker), Kiki is survived by her daughter, Lillian (Charlie) Vergiris; her grandchildren Evelyn, Alexi, and Cody; her Siamese cat, Gigi; and an extended family in the United States and Greece.
A Celebration of Life reception will be held at Brookdale Senior Living on Friday, Nov. 23 from 1 to 3 p.m. at 1111 Ontario, Oak Park.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests any donations be made to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
Arrangements were handled by Drechsler, Brown & Williams Funeral Home.