Maria Casandra Karountzos
November 12, 1982 ~ July 18, 2013
Maria Casandra Karountzos, of Creston BC, first born daughter of Bonnie and Jim, brought her shining light into the world on November 12, 1982, in Creston BC, and was tragically taken on July 18, 2013 near Kelowna, BC. Her big bright eyes earned her the nickname “Peeper”.
Maria started her life’s journey on a small farm in Canyon BC, where she developed a love for animals and the beauty of nature, along with her brothers Chris and John, and sister Mimika. She became a jet-setter at age 6, when she and her sister Mimika began their bi-annual trips to Nafplion Greece, where they were immersed in the culture and language of their father’s heritage. At age 13, Maria and her sister Mimika attended public school in Greece, where she learned to read and write Greek, and study the music and culture of the country, thus instilling her love for her Greek Heritage, including the food, music and dance. This is proudly showcased at the Greek Night celebrations the family hosts at Jimmy’s Pub and Grill.
Maria loved to dance. At age 5 she became one of the first students of the Lori Kepke School of Highland Dance and continued with Highland Dance studies until age 17. She was a very accomplished student earning dozens of medals in competitions, overall Aggregate awards, and achieving the top recognition of honours in Highland Theory. She also loved tap dancing, jazz, and of course, Greek dancing!
Maria’s love of flowers began early in life, when she would scout the woods around the farm, collecting huge bouquets of wild flowers to brighten up her parents’ home. She was affectionately known as their little “Flower”. As she grew up her love of beautiful flowers became ever more apparent and was then nicknamed “The Flower Pot”. Maria’s true passion was being in the gardens, carefully tending to her numerous plants, giving special attention to her favorites; the lilies, orchids and roses. She maintained all the beautiful gardens at the Creston Hotel, and was making plans to open her own flower shop in the Okanagan, where she planned to share her life with her other love, Josh Hoffart.
Maria was a respected and accomplished entrepreneur, and she displayed her talents in the family business she co-owned with her father Jim, brother Chris, and sister Mimika along with their spouses. She was introduced to the business community at a very young age, when she was required to participate in the family businesses. At age 15, when her mother Bonnie (Rob) Geddes re-opened the Tivoli Theatre, Maria stepped right in to help kick off this new venture. She continued to work there for four years, learning all aspects of the business including customer service, projectioning, and staff management. When she was 19, she then joined her father Jim at the Creston Hotel, where she further expanded her business knowledge and skills, and the business was later passed on to Maria and her siblings Chris and Mimika. Maria had a unique way of bringing her positive energy and bright smile to work with her every day, making each client feel individually special. As a skilled baker, Maria made fabulous cakes and desserts she loved to share at the hotel. She shared her love with all who knew her, including the staff she worked with. Her ability to bond with her staff on a personal level developed into deep friendships that carried on beyond the walls of the workplace. She was a true and loyal friend, while still retaining the highest of respect as their employer, and this loyalty was reciprocated by all.
Maria’s love for children was unparalleled. She was overjoyed when her youngest sister Destiny (Geddes) was born when Maria was 16 years old. She developed a bond with Destiny, often standing in as her ‘sister-mom’. Despite the age difference, the three sisters would spend special days such as ‘Sister Tuesdays’ and their favourite… triple S; Sister Sleepover Saturday! Family was everything to Maria. It was never more apparent than the excitement she displayed with the births of her niece Sofia, and nephews Johnny and Eric. She was a doting Auntie. Maria bestowed her love, kindness and gentle nature upon these young and precious children in her life, and their feelings for her were mutual. You could always count on Maria to care for the kids like they were her own. She was amazing!
Maria is survived by her parents Bonnie (Rob) Geddes and Jim (Fotini) Karountzos; brothers Chris (Cori) Karountzos, John Karountzos; sisters Mimika (Paul) Coleman and Destiny Geddes; niece Sofia Karountzos; nephews Johnny and Eric Coleman; maternal grandparents Joyce Mehrer and Edwin Mehrer, and over 40 aunts and uncles and numerous cousins, exceeding 100.
Maria, our very special “Flower”, was picked by the Angels and will be forever missed, remembered in our hearts, and loved by all who knew her.
“And in the end, it is not the years in your life that count, but the life in your years.”
~ Abraham Lincoln