Death of First Saint Basil’s Academy Principal/Helen Voulgares Vans

Helen Voulgares, 1944, The Farm, South Gate, Saint Basil's Academy
VANS Helen Voulgares Vans (Age 95) Career Milwaukee Public Schools kindergarten teacher and the first principal of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocesan Saint Basil’s Academy elementary boarding school, died February 21, 2016, in Reston, VA. She was 95. She was appointed in 1944 by then-Archbishop Athenagoras, later to become Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, to the fledgling elementary boarding school in Garrison, NY established for Greek Orthodox families in need. She served until 1947, resumed teaching in Milwaukee, retired to Northern Virginia in 1985, and was an assistant junior kindergarten teacher at Grace Episcopal School, Alexandria, VA. until 1989. Helen Haricilia Olive Voulgares was born in Milwaukee, WI in 1920 to Theologos and Maria (Kromyda) Voulgares of the Roumeli region of Greece. Her mother was a state licensed midwife who authored a book in Greek on pre-natal and child care and lectured nationally to Greek immigrant women. Her father owned downtown Milwaukee’s Empire Shoe Repair and Hat Cleaning. She graduated from Holy Angeles Academy (”37) and Mount Mary College (Art, ”41), with a state certificate in elementary education and earned a Master’s equivalency in early childhood development from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She was a civilian Army Air Corps chief inspector during WWII. She directed Milwaukee’s Athenian Choristers Greek folk music group, and was a former choir director and the first elected woman trustee of Milwaukee’s Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church. She was recognized for her service to the Church by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of the Americas, the Diocese of Chicago, the National Ladies Philoptochos Society, and the Church’s Choir Federation. She was a member of Washington’s Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral. In retirement, she resided and shared her love and knowledge of Hellenic culture with her many friends at Parc East Condominium, The Lewinsville Retirement Residence, and Tall Oaks Assisted Living Reston. Her husband of 26 years, Christ Nicholas Vans, of Cephallonia, Greece and Milwaukee, an independent grocer, died in 1978. She was also preceded in death by siblings Demetra and George (infants) and Georgia Voulgares Popps of Chevy Chase, MD. She is survived by her son Gerasimos “Gerry” C. Vans and daughter-in-law Margaret O”Sullivan Vans of McLean, VA; grandchildren Alexander, Julia, and Crist Vans; nephew Dean G. Popps and his family; numerous relatives by marriage. The family expresses its deep gratitude to the staff and volunteers of Tall Oaks Assisted Living Reston and VITAS Healthcare Hospice and Palliative Care for their extraordinary care and compassion. A viewing will be at 10 a.m. followed by the Funeral Service at 11 a.m., Thursday, February 25, 2016, at Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral, 36th and Massachusetts Ave. NW. Interment at Wauwatosa, WI. Cemetery at a later date. Memorial contributions may be made to the Fr. John Tavlarides Mosaic Preservation Fund, care of Saint Sophia Cathedral. Online guest book available – See more at: