Ellen Vidalakis Furgis, 86, passed away!!!!

Ellen Vidalakis Furgis, 86, passed away on February 7, 2013 surrounded by her family and friends. She grew up in Bingham Canyon, Utah, where her parents, Spiros and Kyraki Vidalakis, had emigrated from Crete. In July 1953 she married George C. Furgis.
At the age of 8, Ellen lost her mother, and from then on she and cooking went hand-in-hand. She couldn't have realized that as she fed her younger brother and sisters, she was embarking on one of the great missions of her life. She went on to feed rich and poor, usually at the same table, and what a table it was! There was elegance and simplicity, thoughtful conversation and easy chatter.
 She became a celebrated cook and authored the cookbook Greek Cooking at Its American Best. Through her focus on food, she was able to introduce to newcomers and preserve for old-timers the beautiful aspects of the Greek culture. Her cooking classes and demonstrations became favorites throughout the valley and were fundamental in creating interest in ethnic cultures.

Ellen was known for her big parties and fundraisers, complete with "lamb on a spit." In 1986 and 1987, she co-chaired the Greek Festival, helping to take it to the large-scale production it is today. She was very active in other aspects of the community. She was instrumental in instituting kindergarten classes in the Jordan School District in 1972. She was appointed co-chair of the "White House Conference on Families" by Governor Scott Matheson. She was a member of the Board of Trustees at Westminster College where she received an honorary degree. Ellen enjoyed her association with the Gina Bauchauer International Piano Competition and her fundraising efforts for Odyssey House, the Utah Symphony, the American Cancer Society, and Camp Kostopolous.
Ellen had a powerful yet gentle presence and left a lasting impression on those who knew her. She found joy in living and she lived fully and heartily. Her generosity was unsurpassed. The dinner table was always filled with family and friends as well as people working on the house, students from East High, and random visitors who happened to stop by. Her family never let her open a restaurant because they knew she'd go broke feeding everyone for free.
Ellen was nothing if not egalitarian. She was well-versed in a wide variety of topics and could captivate an audience with her knowledge of ancient Greece, history, politics, and of course, the Utah Jazz. She rarely missed a game on television and would call family members and friends at halftime to rehash with vigor great plays and "bad calls." She enjoyed playing bridge and was a life master in duplicate. Despite her sophisticated palate, she never passed up a chance to dine on Kentucky Fried Chicken. She'd return to her richer tastes and end the meal with a few Cummings chocolates, always nearby.
 Ellen died at home, her expansive bedroom windows bathing the room in light. She slipped gracefully and peacefully from this life surrounded by the people whom she had loved and supported and whose love now bore her up.
This remarkable woman will be dearly missed by her children, grandchildren, and many friends. She is survived by children, Karen Furgis; Jennifer Politakis; Christopher (Kynthia) Furgis and their children, her dear namesake, Ellen Grace, Peter, and Georgie; and George Furgis (Susanne Gustin) and their son Michael James; brother Dr. Nick Vidalakis (Nancy); sister Carrie Fugett and many beloved nieces and nephews. Preceded in death by husband George C. Furgis, sister Vida Riddle and niece Nada Riddle.
A viewing will be held Friday, February 15 from 5-8:00 p.m. at Deseret Mortuary, 36 E. 700 S., with a Trisagion at 7:30 p.m. Funeral services at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, 300 S. 300 W., at 11:00 a.m. Saturday, February 16. Friends can pay respects 1 hour prior. Interment will be in the Mount Olivet Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, please donate to Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church.


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