Obituary: Georgia Simos Raftopoulos

Georgia Simos Raftopoulos, 94, passed away surrounded by her loving family April 15, 2007, at the Memorial Hospital in Craig.

Georgia, also know as Yiayia to many (Greek for grandmother), was born Oct. 22, 1912, in Kaloscopie, Greece, a small mountain village in Central Greece; an area very similar topographically to Northwest Colorado.

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She was born to Konstandenos and Ekaterni Vlahos. Her childhood years were spent in Greece helping her family survive through difficult times after World War I and the Depression. In 1935, she married Steve Simos, who had established a sheep operation in Browns Park and was seeking a bride from his native village. They returned to the United States that same year via ocean liner to New York City, where they rode the train and made the long journey to Colorado.

Life was difficult in a strange land, not knowing the language or the customs. Upon arrival in Craig, she was left for short periods of time in the tender care of Ralph and Pearl White while her husband tended his sheep operation. Pearl White became a trusted and dear friend, who she often referred to as her American Mother.

Georgia worked along side her husband on their sheep operation, wintering in Browns Park, lambing south of Craig, and summering in the Milner area, where they established a homestead.

During her second month in the United States, while trailing sheep through Mount Harris, a woman approached her and began speaking Greek. It was Leona Papoulas, who was the wife of another Greek rancher. Georgia was so excited to meet another Greek woman who she could speak to in her native language. They understood each other's challenges and customs, and from that moment on they were like sisters and lifelong friends, speaking to each other on a daily basis for 71 years.

Georgia's marriage to Steve Simos brought two children: Connie, who was born in 1937, and Jim, in 1938. Steve was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and passed away in 1948. She was left with two small children and sheep operation to run on her own.

She had great beauty, but she was not afraid to physically do things that some thought were only the feats of men. After two years of sacrifice and struggle, at the age of 36 she leased the operation and went to Greece to her homeland, where she reacquainted with an old childhood friend, George Raftopoulos. They were married Dec. 16, 1950 in Athens, Greece. They returned to Craig in the spring of 1951.

After a year in the United States, they purchased sheep and restocked the operation from sheep purchased in Wyoming. Georgia was responsible for recruiting her brother and other family members to the United States to work on the operation and eventually becoming citizens and successful in their own lives and communities.

Georgia and George have two sons; John, born in 1952, and Steve, in 1953. They all worked on the operation and have expanded it to one of the largest sheep and cattle operations in Colorado.

Georgia's love and interests of her life were her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and her beloved Greek Orthodox Church. She will be remembered for her fabulous cooking and her warm hospitality. She took pride in her garden and yard and was winner of "Yard of the Week" several times. One of her favorite outings was to go to the Green River with her friends and fish. She enjoyed the days with her Greek Friends, Leona Papoulas, Stella Peroulis, Effie Kourlis and Demetra Charchalis, on their excursions to Juniper Hot Springs for therapeutic baths, picking fruit in Palisade, quilting and making Greek pastries in their homes.

She was a member of the St. John's Greek Orthodox Church, Philoptohos Society Auxiliary, Routt-Moffat Woolgrowers, and Soil Conservationist of the Year, and a BPOE Elk Auxiliary (Does) member.

She is preceded in death by her mother and father, Ekatherini and Konstandenos Vlahos, her sisters, Athena, Maria, Argyro, and brother James, nephew, Pete Georgiou, and her first husband, Steve Simos.

Georgia is survived by her husband, George Raftopoulos; daughter Connie and her husband Chris Jouflas of Grand Junction; son Jim and his wife Pam Simos of Craig; son John and his wife Marianna Raftopoulos of Craig; and son Steve and his wife Toni Raftopoulos of Craig.

She also is survived by her brothers, George and his wife Jane Vlahos of Denver and Pete Vlahos of Athens, Greece; grandchildren, Denise and Carl Jouflas-Lipp of Wolcott, Peter and Kristy Jouflas of Grand Junction, Steve and Carrie Jouflas of Arvada, Georgann and Bill Shanahan of Grand Junction, Steve and Elaina Simos of Salt Lake City, Sam and Peggy Simos of Naperville, Ill., Greg and Beth Simos of Richmond, Va., James Simos II of Oakland, CA, George Raftopoulos of Craig, Mari Katherine Raftopoulos of Craig, Angelo Raftopoulos of Craig, Alexis Raftopoulos of Kirkland, Mo., Jorgiea Raftopoulos of Craig, Andrew Raftopoulos of Craig, and Zacharias Raftopoulos of Craig; great-grandchildren Karlie and Alex Jouflas of Grand Junction, Carl Lipp IV of Wolcott, Hadley Jouflas of Arvada, Brady and Zoe Shanahan of Grand Junction, and Alexa and Nicole Simos of Naperville, Ill.

The Trisagion services will be at 7 p.m. today at Grant Mortuary.

A funeral service will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at St. John's Greek Orthodox Church, 691 Green St.

Officiating will be Archimandrite Makarios Mannos of Salt Lake City and Reverend Protopresbter Luke Uhl of Denver.

Memorial donations may be made to St. John's Greek Orthodox Church in care of Grant Mortuary.

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