Catherine Violet, 91, of Keeher Ave, Newport died on Friday, April 7, 2017 at Grand Islander Health Care Center in Middletown, RI. Catherine was born December 1, 1925 in Boston, MA. She is the daughter of the late George and Dorothea (Maniates) Gianakellis. She was the wife of the late James M. Violet, Sr.
Catherine was a talented musician, singer and painter. She studied classical piano as a young girl and enjoyed entertaining family and friends with both classical pieces and popular music. At the age of 15, she became the church organist of St. Spyridon Greek Orthodox church, following in her sister Mary’s footsteps. She continued as organist until her wedding to her beloved husband Jim took her to Saudi Arabia, and upon her return, she continued her tenure, sharing the duties with her sister Artemis for over 22 years. Catherine had a strong, clear soprano voice and it was a joy to hear her sing during church services and during family parties. During World War II, she frequently entertained troops at the US Naval Hospital in Newport by playing the popular tunes of the day on the piano, and singing along. She also helped to put on several stage shows at St. Spyridon’s. These stage shows helped raise money for various church needs, including new choir robes and were always big hits. She was also a Sunday School teacher.
Prior to her marriage, she was a payroll clerk at JJ Newberry’s on Thames Street. She retired after 20 years working for the Newport School Department. She also worked in her father’s candy store. Catherine was also a talented painter, and for several years enjoyed studying at the Newport Art Association. Many of her paintings grace the homes of her family. She was a fantastic cook, and shared many of her recipes with family. From her youth, she enjoyed the beach and swimming and even until her recent illness, she could still be found on a lovely summer day at Easton’s Beach.
She is survived by her children Margaret Batey and her husband Dale of Sullivan, Maine, Dorothea Kelly and her husband Wolfgang of Charleston, SC, and James M. Violet, Jr. and his wife Jane of Middletown, and her two sisters Diane Bonafas of Middletown and Artemis Ademedes and her husband Thomas of Newport, nine grandchildren and seven great grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews.
She was predeceased by her brother Basil Gianakellis, sister Mary Whittle; dear cousin Paul Cotsoridis, brother in laws Nicholas Bonafas and Wallace Whittle.
Visitation will be held on Wednesday, April 12 from 10:00-11:00am in the St. Spyridon’s Greek Orthodox Church, 390 Thames Street, Newport, with the funeral service to follow at 11:00 am in the St. Spyridon’s Greek Orthodox Church. Burial will be in Middletown Cemetery.
Memorial donations may be made to the St. Spyridon’s Greek Orthodox Church, PO Box 427, Newport, RI 02840.