Sugas-Telionis, Vasso

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Vasso Sugas-Telionis, 70, of Blacksburg, passed away on Thursday, January 3, 2013, at the University of Virginia Medical Center surrounded by her family after a heroic struggle with leukemia. A native of Athens, Greece, Vasso and her husband called Blacksburg, Va., home for the past 42 years.

Vasso leaves behind her husband, Demetri; her son, Alex; her sister, Ero; colleagues and many friends who grieve her loss, yet count it a blessing for having had Vasso as a part of their lives.

In the words of her husband: “The first time I saw Vasso, I was stunned. She was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. To my greatest amazement we dated and were soon married. This girl was not only incredibly beautiful, she had a wonderful personality, a great sense of humor, and a zest for life and adventure. We could dance with Greek sailors in the harbor clubs of New Orleans or waltz at elegant Athens hotels. The two of us could giggle with stupidities as if we were kindergarten kids, or enjoy opera at the Metropolitan. We sang duets with our guitars copying Peter Paul and Mary, or play Greek bouzouki music at Greek parties. She would surprise me with amazing presents, like an upright piano I was missing so much when we moved to the US. She was the center of attention wherever we went and the love of all of our friends and acquaintances and I glowed with pride and joy to be one of her admirers, but the one who had the greatest privilege to be with her for life, as long as there was life… but there is no more. And I am totally devastated.”

In the words of her son:”I suspect it is not uncommon to see an obituary describe someone as “unique,” but those who met my mother will never again meet someone with her unusual combination of vices and virtues. She had many bad habits; she drank Dutch beer, smoked English cigarettes, ate Italian pastas and French carbohydrates, loved thick rare steaks, and considered sweaty exercise distasteful and bad for her hair. She swore often, had too much pride for her own good, was occasionally wrathful, and had not one ounce of restraint when dealing with those who annoyed her. But, she was also immeasurably kind, particularly to animals. I’m certain she never met a dog which didn’t adore her; she had 12 of her own over the course of her life and placed sseveral others in good homes. She had old-world elegance and class, the type considered obsolete by most of the world today. She was sharp-witted with a sharper tongue. She was a world class chef, and had an immensely varied education encompassing everything from Baroque music to modern sociology to the study of the Mahabharata. She was the life of any party and most always hilarious. She had the wisdom (and disdain for modern technology) of a centenarian, the attitude of a young lady, and occasionally the sense of humor of a teenager; she was the type of person to play practical jokes on total strangers even in her sixties. She was as obstinate as a brick wall, as ornery as a rattlesnake, and as intractable as an old stump, with the intuition of a fox, the motherly instincts of a she-wolf and the empathy of an angel. I will never again taste her cooking, feel her touch or pick up the phone and hear her voice-I can never express with words what her loss means, but I can say that while we are all diminished by her loss, we are all better for having known her.”

In the words of her sister… “I was much younger than my sister, Vasso, but there were just the two of us. We were similar in so many ways but also very different. She was the creative one, the artistic one. The one who enlisted all of us pre-teen extended family off-springs, to act in plays she wrote and directed for the amusement of family and friends. She was musical, keeping the beat of any music piece from classical to 50s rock and roll and from Middle Eastern to Latin beats. She was the one that always planned the numerous mischievous acts that I so adored taking part in, inevitably, we both secretly giggled together when our parents unleashed their wrath on to us every time we got caught. All our lives, she would trigger uncontrollable laughter in me and I in her, to the point that our husbands wondered if they had both married mad women. I am sure of two things now: I will never be able to fill the gaping crater in my soul that was created when she left us and I will never be able to laugh again like we did when we were together.”

In the words of a colleague: “When I first met Vasso, we were both just beginning our careers at Raines Real Estate. You would never have known she was a novice because she immediately took control of most situations with frank comments and wry humor. Her education at Cornell University and Virginia Tech where she received a B.S. and Master’s degree in sociology and completed all the graduate course work in Urban and Regional Planning, uniquely prepared her for a successful career. Vasso always had everyone’s-buyers or sellers-best interest at heart. She was respected by lawyers, bankers and colleagues for her honesty, though it might cost her a commission. She would often surprise buyers, with a blunt statement like “this house is garbage” or “this is not good for you.” She was a delight to work with and the dearest of friends.”

In the words of several of her close friends… “Vasso is the reason many of us have remained in Blacksburg for some 40 years. This is not an exaggeration. In the early 70s, she intimidated some of us with her European flair, shocked most of us with her candid comments, but enchanted all of us with her insatiable zest for life. Over the years, however, she had the power to create a bond between us that is closer and more precious than that experienced in most families. With her unique, genuine, and brutally honest love, she also had the power to win the hearts of our children and these children clearly grieve the loss of their Aunt Vasso.”

In accordance with her wishes, her body was cremated. A private service will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be made to the Humane Society of Montgomery County (