Thomas (Tom) Leonidas Tzivanis, 90, passed away in his sleep with his family by his side on December 4, 2019. He was a lifelong resident of his beloved Village of Endicott born to Stavros Tzivani, a refugee fleeing the Turkish genocide of Christians in 1915, and to his mother Dimitra Thaniotes Tzivani, who emigrated from Magoula, Greece, a small village near Sparta. Tom was the youngest of the blended family of 11 children. He was predeceased by all his siblings, and his passing marks the end of this American family’s immigrant experience.
After his service to the U.S. Army stateside during the Korean War, he met and married his wife Florence Ann Hills in 1956. He was employed by IBM for nearly 40 years before he took early retirement. In retirement, he volunteered within the Union-Endicott school system assisting children with disabilities within the elementary and middle schools, as well as the high school. As a teenager, he was a cut-up in the classroom and admitted that he sometimes derailed the teachers’ lesson plans. He volunteered within his former schools “to make up for” his youthful distractions, wanting to aid and support the teachers’ work. He found immense satisfaction and purpose helping the children and teachers, and he especially enjoyed sitting in on American history classes becoming a “student” again.
Tom started a “Save the Tiger” campaign within U.E. high school in his effort to remind students and teachers that their mascot the tiger is an endangered species. As a lover of all of God’s creatures, he also was a huge fan of the work done by the World Wildlife Federation.
Tom was a lifelong and beloved member of the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation built by Greek immigrants on Arthur Avenue in Endicott, and then built anew by second-generation Greek-Americans in Vestal, NY. Another passion he followed in his retirement was to assist Father Michael Bahlatzis on errands and missions while also serving as possibly the oldest altar “boy” in Orthodox history.
He is survived by his beloved wife of 63 years, Florence; his son Thomas Stavros and his beloved daughter-in-law Vana; his daughter Barbara (Bapbapa) and his much loved son-in-law Wayne Benham; his grandsons Tommy D (Amanda), and Lucas Tzivanis Long (Harry); along with many treasured nieces and nephews and godchildren. He also is survived by his devoted sisters-in-law, Doris Andrews, Janet James, Betsy Smith, and Linda Hills. He has one surviving brother-in-law, Roger Hills of Apalachin NY.
The family would like to express their heartfelt appreciation to the staff at the Cottages at Garden Grove in Cicero, for taking wonderful care of Tom during his last months of life. Also we are grateful for Florence and Tom’s caregivers at home, Kathy Lupold, Barbara Woolfolk, Pam Melvin and Doris Andrews.
Funeral services will be held on Sunday December 8 at 2 pm at the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation, 4121 O’Hara Drive in Vestal, to be followed by a gathering in the church’s community room for food, drink, and celebration of life. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation or any charity that is dedicated to saving tigers and their habitats.