Violette King of Godfrey, 72, passed away peacefully, at her home, with her family at her side during the early morning of Monday, Jan. 4, 2016.
She was born to Greek parents, Elias and Sevastie (Kotsakis) Papagianis, on July 21, 1943, in Tirana, Albania, two months before the German occupation.
In 1945, she, her mother, and older brother were smuggled across the closed, Communist-controlled border, into Greece, where they joined her father, who had previously gone to Greece for surgery.
The family immigrated to the United States in 1957. Violette graduated from the University of Miami School of Cytotechnology. She attended Washington University in St. Louis and received her bachelor’s degree, with honors, from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
Violette helped develop the curriculum for and was the first teaching supervisor of the School of Cytotechnology at Washington University-Barnes Hospital from 1963 to 1967. Violette was the Cytology/Histology Supervisor for several medical laboratories in St. Louis from 1969 to 1974. From 1976 to 2008 she was the Laboratory Supervisor of Southern Illinois Pathology Laboratory, Ltd. in Godfrey.
Violette was the founder and first president of the St. Louis Society of Cytology in 1967. A ceremony was held in 1974 honoring her for this accomplishment. She was co-author on several scientific publications, served on the faculty of multiple regional, national and international cytopathology workshops, and in 1982, the Board of Directors of the American Society of Cytopathology, then the American Society of Cytology, selected her, based on outstanding professional accomplishments, as one of the first cytotechnologists to receive full voting privileges in this medical organization.
In 1995, Violette founded and was president of Nursing Home Monitors, a nonprofit advocacy organization for nursing home residents. She received multiple national, regional and local awards for her dedicated efforts in that regard. These included, locally, the 2003 Women of Worth award from the St. Louis chapter of OWL and the Liberty Bell award from the Madison County Bar Association in 2004. She was featured in several magazines for her work on behalf of nursing home residents. In October 2002, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch called her “one of the nation’s leading voices for nursing home reform.”
Violette was well-known for her gardening hobby, which included her extensive plantings of various hydrangeas. In November 1996, she and her hydrangeas were on the cover on St. Louis Lifestyles Magazine, and in August 1997, the Alton Telegraph ran a feature article on her, headlined, “The Hydrangea Lady.”
She married Dr. Ordie H. King Jr. in civil ceremony in Memphis, Tenn., on March 21, 1974. Shortly thereafter, they were married at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in St. Louis.
Survivors include her loving husband, Dr. Ordie H. King Jr; daughter, Catherine A. King and her husband, Michael Krutzsch; beloved grandson, Elliot Spencer King of Chicago; son, Alexander C. King and wife, Joyce King of Godfrey; stepson, Ordie H. King, III of Water Valley, Miss.; stepdaughter, Anna Lavelle King of New Orleans, La.; older brother, Pete Papagianis and wife, Beverly; nephew, Jimmy Papagianis and wife, Kelly; niece, Maria Papagianis, all of St. Louis; and her beloved canine foundling, Damon.
Preceding her in death are her parents, Elias and Sevastie Papagianis.
Visitation will be from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 7, 2016, at Elias, Kallal and Schaaf Funeral Home in Godfrey.
Funeral service will be held at 10 a.m. Friday, Jan. 8, 2016, at the funeral home.
Interment will follow at Valhalla Memorial Park in Godfrey.
Memorials may be made to St. Nicolas Greek Orthodox Church, 4967 Forest Park Ave. St. Louis, MO 63108.
Online condolences and guestbook may be found at www.eliaskallalandschaaf.com.