Tula M. Gallanes
March 1, 1926 – March 2, 2018

“Well done, good and faithful servant…enter into the joy of your Lord.”
–Matthew 25:21

It is with sadness yet with hope in the Resurrection that the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of San Francisco announces the passing of Tula M. Gallanes, who reposed in the Lord on March 2, 2018 in Moraga, California.

“Tula’s involvement in the church was extraordinary and exemplary. She was a bright light in her service, never turning her back on those in need, and always striving to share God’s love through her actions,” stated His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos. “As the Metropolis Philoptochos President, Tula was a visionary and elevated the work of this ministry to create new programs and initiatives like the Bishop Anthony Philoptochos Student Aid Endowment Fund and Camp Agape, both of which are still thriving and are a testimony to her outstanding leadership abilities. Tula was a kindhearted woman, a faithful woman, and a cherished friend. May she find eternal rest in the Lord’s heavenly Kingdom and may He comfort her grieving family and all who mourn her passing.”

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to “Bishop Anthony Philoptochos Student Aid Endowment Fund” or “Kids ‘n’ Cancer Ministry”, both c/o Ladies Philoptochos Society, Greek Orthodox Metropolis of San Francisco, 245 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94103 or online at SFPhiloptochos.org/donate. 

May her memory be eternal!


Tula M. Gallanes, a 54 year resident of Riverside, California, reposed peacefully, on March 2, 2018, in Moraga, California. She was 92 years old, having celebrated her birthday on March 1st.

Early Life 

Tula Marakas was born of loving, immigrant parents, George and Helen Marakas.  She recalled fondly how, as a four year old, her parents prepared her for the birth of her younger sister, Anna. “They told me I would have a little sister or brother to play with, but immediately after she was born, I told my mother ‘I can’t play with her, she’s too small!’” And so began a life-long journey of two sisters with a special bond. 

Tula graduated from high school in 1944; she pursued her teaching degrees and certifications from San Francisco State University, a Bachelor of Arts in Education, and later a Masters of Arts in Educational Administration, and a Lifetime California Teaching Credential.

Tula began her teaching career in 1948 in the Oakland Unified School District. She was eventually assigned to teach fourth, fifth and sixth grades at Redwood Heights Elementary. She loved her students very much, and experienced great joy successfully turning non-readers into lovers of books. Tula led the school choir and other extra-curricular activities during the school year. With the support of her peers, Tula served as President of the Elementary Teachers Association in Oakland, and was a member of the National Educational Association. She travelled to Istanbul, Turkey in 1955 as a Delegate of the National Education Association to a meeting of the International Teachers Federation. Accepting a special opportunity, she paid her respects to Patriarch Athenagoras I, whom she knew from his service in America. Tula caught the travel bug and stayed abroad for two more years, securing a teaching position at the American Community School, Athens, Greece.

Tula was always fully engaged in parish life. During World War II, she accepted the directorship of the Liturgical Choir of the Assumption Church on Brush Street.  She was a founding member of the Church Music Federation of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of San Francisco. Many baby boomers will remember her as a Sunday School Teacher, Librarian, and GOYA Advisor.

When she was preparing to accept a Principal position, a special man from Riverside, California entered her life.

Married Life 

On November 24, 1963, Tula was married to Dr. Odyssea Gallanes at the Ascension Church (now Cathedral.) After their Las Vegas honeymoon, Tula moved from Oakland, the big city, to Riverside, a semi-rural town, to begin her new life with her husband. And though her heart never really left Oakland and its church community, she settled into her new church community of Prophet Elias Church of San Bernardino, as well as participating in the Eastern Star rite of the Shrine, and the American Association of University Women (AAUW). 

By the early 1970’s she and her husband Odyssea were hosting their nephews, Steven and George, for their entire summer break from elementary school. They  accepted and treated their nephews as their own children, sparing no sacrifice, offering their home as a yearly, personal “summer camp” filled with regular trips to Disneyland, the beach, camping in the mountains, horseback riding, target shooting, swimming and tennis lessons, tending to a large fruit and vegetable garden, and a daily list of household chores. In 1981, Tula and her sister Anna travelled with Steven and George to Greece and the Ionian Village. Two years later, she travelled with Steven and George to Greece for the entire summer, which included cruising to Cairo, Jerusalem, Cyprus, Ancient Ephesus, and several Greek islands. When Steven and George headed off to college, Tula turned her attention to her philanthropic interests. She and Her husband Odyssea loved their nephews always and unconditionally, and they loved them as second parents.

Church Life 

She served Philoptochos at all levels, starting as a local officer of St. Irene Chapter at Prophet Elias Church. Tula became more deeply involved with the leadership of the organization Philoptochos when Metropolitan Anthony, of blessed memory, appointed her President of the Philoptochos Board for the Diocese of San Francisco in 1989. In that role, she became a National Philoptochos Board member, and remained so for many years. 

She poured her heart and soul into the ministry.  She led the women of Philoptochos as a servant –leader, offering herself as an example who personally sacrificed for the ministry’s goals, and expecting nothing in return. During her tenure, she sought to support the local chapters through personal attention, guidance and visits. She promoted chapter growth as outreach. She led the effort to raise funds to establish the first permanent Philoptochos Office. A highlight was when she accompanied Metropolitan Anthony to Russia in 1992 to deliver humanitarian aid from the Diocese of San Francisco to the Patriarchate of Moscow and the Russian Orthodox people. She attended the first Paschal Resurrection Service by the Russian Patriarch after the fall of the Soviet Union.

She initiated and believed deeply in two fundamental ministries of Philoptochos- the Bishop Anthony Student Aid Endowment Fund and Kids ‘n’ Cancer. As an educator, Tula fully understood that the future of the Church was in its ability to educate its future priests and leaders. She also knew that seminarians were incurring crushing student loan debt. Resolving to expand the opportunity for young men to become priests, Tula consulted with her brother in law, Dr. James Counelis, Professor of Education, University of San Francisco, regarding this educational challenge. The result was her proposal to Metropolitan Anthony and the Philoptochos Board to establish an endowment fund, the interest from which would be distributed to students attending Hellenic College Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology to offset their tuition and educational costs. Though the support was initially very modest to each student, today the Endowment Fund makes substantial contributions toward each student’s educational costs. And now 30 years later, the Metropolis of San Francisco remains the only metropolis in the Archdiocese that supports its students in this way. 

Directly related to her Church work, she was a Board Member of the Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute Southern California Women’s Board for many years. Here again, she expressed her support of the special educational mission of the Patriarchal Institute, to promote Orthodoxy in an academic context within the Graduate Theological Union at Berkeley.

She could not have served Philoptochos, locally, metropolis wide, or nationally, without the unyielding and quiet support of her devoted husband, Odyssea. He occasionally quipped with a grin how he was a “Philoptochos widower” since she was gone on Philoptochos business more often than she was home. He was proud of all she accomplished for the Church. 

In her latter years, she enjoyed deeply, with her husband Odyssea, becoming an integral loving force in the lives of her grand nephews and niece, Steven and George’s children. Whether enjoying the natural beauty of Lake Tahoe, a road trip to the Grand Canyon, or attending birthday parties, and school events, the children reflected back the love she showered on them.


Tula Marakas Gallanes leaves her family and church with a legacy and model of generosity, education, and philanthropy. With her dear husband of 54 years, she shared a God-pleasing, and blessed life together, replete with selfless giving of their time, talent and treasure to the Lord, His Church, and family. Each provided the other constant and unflinching support, especially in times of transition, challenge, and illness. This allowed her to live the fullest possible life. 

She is survived her sister, Anna Marakas Counelis; nephew, Hon. Steven and Stacia Counelis, Anna and Christos; nephew, Dr. George and Sophia Counelis, Demetrios and Demosthenes. May her memory be eternal!