Florica Tassi Popescu Tonna passed away peacefully at home on Friday, January 24 at the age of 96.
Florica was the sixth of eleven children in the northern Greek mountain village of Patacina, daughter of Vlach Balkan merchant George Tassi Popescu and Chiratsa (Pariza) Popescu. She was a teacher during the war years of German occupation and starvation. At one point the situation was so dire that Florica’s father George was selected to travel to Romania to ask for provisions. He met with the Prime Minister who sent wagon loads of food, saving the community, even though he said he was taking food from the mouths of his own soldiers. After WW II came the horrors of the Greek Civil War. The family’s home was burned and they escaped to the Greek city of Edessa, staying for nine years and surviving primarily on her sister Marica’s dressmaking skills. In 1955, she and Marica obtained visas to the USA, with sponsorship by the Saint Dimitrie Romanian Orthodox Church in Bridgeport, CT. Florica soon found factory work at Hubbell and saved every cent to bring other family members to America. At a church dance in Bridgeport she was introduced to Theodore Tonna, the recently widowed chairman of Table Talk Pies in Worcester. Upon their marriage in 1958, she started the next chapter of her life as a wife and mother. She became involved in the Worcester Women’s Club and the Philoptochos Society of St. Spyridon Greek Orthodox Cathedral and made many wonderful friends. She also volunteered at Bancroft School and ministries for the poor at St. Nicholas Romanian Orthodox Church. She enjoyed summers on Killdeer Island at Webster Lake, hosting large family gatherings with her husband and children.
Florica is survived by her two children, Diane Tonna of Worcester and George Tonna and his wife, Lynne, of Worcester. She was a loving Maia to her five cherished and long-awaited grandchildren: Peter, Christina, Teddy, Tasha and Nicky Tonna. She is also survived by her stepchildren, Mary Cocaine of Worcester, Joan Christo of Holden, Jean Welch of Sturbridge and Ted Tonna of Webster. Other survivors include her sisters Bia Michaels of Southport, CT, Lena Caragiorgu of Constanta, I Romania, Veta Canouta of Athens, Greece and her great niece, Dr. Alida Qipo of Wall, NJ. She was predeceased in 1987 by her beloved husband, Theodore Tonna, after 29 years of marriage. Also predeceased by stepchildren Arthur Tonna, Loretta Bregou and Vicki Pastorelle, and her siblings, Anna Zdru, Nicolae Popescu, Marica Kadianakis, Beca Gherghe and Victoria Carabuzi.
Her funeral is Tuesday, January 28th with a service at 11:00 AM in St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, 34 Gold Street, Shrewsbury. Burial will follow in Hope Cemetery. A visitation will be held the morning of the service from 9:30 AM until the start of the service.
The family asks that flowers be omitted. Memorial donations would be welcomed at one of Florica’s churches which supported her American dream: Saint Dimitrie of Easton, CT, Saint Spyridon of Worcester, MA or Saint Nicholas of Shrewsbury, MA.
Florica will be remembered for her beauty and elegance, her kindness and generosity and her love and loyalty to her family. May her memory be eternal.