Katena “Tina” Vleisides fell asleep in the Lord in the company of her family on February 22, 2023. Katena was born in Lexington, Missouri on June 22, 1929 to Anastasious & Zaharoula (Psihas) Kehrees. Katena was the oldest of four including her brother George and sisters Sophie and Evangeline (Babe). She graduated from Lexington High School in 1947 and attended Christian College in Columbia, Missouri.
Since there was no Greek Orthodox Church in Lexington, the family made occasional visits to Annunciation Church in Kansas City, where she became acquainted with many Greek Orthodox families, including the Vleisides. On April 16, 1950, she married Tom Vleisides, who would be her husband and partner for 60 years. Together they would raise a family of four children, ten grandchildren and fourteen great grandchildren.
Once in Kansas City, Katena became deeply involved in the parish life of Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church. She and her entire family attended services regularly, often using two or more pews to hold the entire family group. Katena served at various times as a Sunday School teacher, long-time member of the Ladies Philoptochos Society, and a leader in organizing the annual Greek Food Festival. In her later years she became involved in the VIP organization, planning various trips for the senior members of the Parish. Her legacy to the Greek Food Festival was running the gift shop for many years, dating back to the years when the event was held at Crown Center. She and her husband Tom made annual trips to Tarpon Springs, Florida to purchase authentic items for Festival attendees, including the legendary sponges that were displayed in a water-filled boat on the Festival grounds. As her children got older, they too became deeply involved in the planning and operation of the gift shop – basically opening and closing a full-service retail store for 3 days each year.
Through all the years, however, nothing was more important to Katena than being a loving matriarch for her extended family. Children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren always knew that they would find a loving welcome from Yaya Tina, no matter the circumstances. As her children and grandchildren married, their spouses were enthusiastically welcomed into the family (even though some of the quieter ones took a bit of time to get used to the exuberant holiday gatherings). Katena was a believer in the power of community meals. Whether it was a Sunday meal after church, a summer cookout by the pool, or an Easter dinner for 40+ relatives, Katena focused on each person having a wonderful dining and family experience.
One of the secrets to great family events was her organizing skills, including the legendary notebooks. The notebooks would be kept for each event, chronicling the tasks necessary to make it a “Vleisides family activity”. From the post-it notes placed in serving plates identifying the precise location for each dish within the meal, to the detailed plans for the annual Easter Egg Hunt (271 eggs for the grandchildren and great-grandchildren in 2019), the notebooks were ever present. One of her favorite activities as her grandchildren became adults, was the grandkid egg hunt, featuring eggs of different colors with different amounts of money. The winner of the $20 dollar egg won not only cash but bragging rights for the following year.
The Greek name for grandmother is “Yaya”. That is what we all called Katena, even those of us who were not actually her grandkids or great grandkids. She epitomized all the love, devotion, and caring for family that the name Yaya suggests. Yaya Tina will be missed greatly by all of us.
She is preceded in death by her husband Tom, her siblings George, Sophie, and Evangeline (Baby), her parents Anastasious & Zaharoula, and her beloved granddaughter Alexa. She is survived by her four children and their spouses- Chris & Connie, Tom & Linda, Denise & Rick, and Mike & Cindy, all living in the Kansas City area. She also leaves a legacy of ten grandchildren (spouses) - Gabriel, Sonny, Athena, Mathew (Suzy), Andrew (Kristen), Alexa’s husband Brian, Lindsey (Chad), Colin, Alec (Angela), and Benjamin (Chelsea). Finally, she leaves fourteen great-grandchildren for whom her eyes lit up and her smile brightened whenever she saw them – Brooklyn, Madi, Carter, Kohen, Addison, Drew, Cassidy, Jordan, Indy, Alex, Devan, Katena, Fox, and Emily.
Visitation will be 5:30-7PM, with the Trisagion service at 7PM, Tuesday, February 28 at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, 12001 Wornall Rd., Kansas City, Missouri. Funeral services will be 10AM, Wednesday, March 1 at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church; burial in Mt. Moriah Cemetery.Service Information:
Visitation will be 5:30-7PM, with the Trisagion service at 7PM, Tuesday, February 28 at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, 12001 Wornall Rd., Kansas City, Missouri. Funeral services will be 10AM, Wednesday, March 1 at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church; burial in Mt. Moriah Cemetery.