Marianna Raftopoulos didn’t cry when she dropped off her daughter, Mari Katherine, at the airport after Easter break to return to college in California.
“She usually cries,” 21-year-old Mari Katherine said. “She bawls. But this time she didn’t. I think she knew. She knew something.”
A week later, Mari Katherine returned to Craig to say goodbye.
Marianna died Wednesday morning at her home after an 11-year battle with chronic lymphoid leukemia.
She was 55.
Marianna is survived by her parents, Nick and Helen Mahleres, of Grand Junction; husband, John; and children George, 24, Mari Katherine, 21, and Angelo, 17.
A Greek Trisagion service will take place at 7 p.m. Sunday at Grant Mortuary, 621 Yampa Ave., and a memorial service is scheduled for 11 a.m. Monday at St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church, 691 Green St.
Both services are open to the public.
Marianna was known in the Craig community for serving in a variety of capacities, including an eight-year term on the Moffat County Commission.
She was the first and only female elected to the county commission, according to county officials.
She also served on various boards including the Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership, The Memorial Hospital Foundation, the Boys & Girls Club of Craig and the Colorado Wildlife Commission, among others.
She was born Marianna Mahleres in Grand Junction and attended the University of Colorado at Boulder, earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism.
She worked in business management and eventually became a consultant in the oil and gas industry.
“She was always the leadership person and very welcoming and never burned one bridge,” Mari Katherine said.
She said she saw her mother as a strong leader who took her illness in stride while continuing to serve the community.
“Eleven years, that’s a long time,” Mari Katherine said. “But it was always something viewed as a livable cancer because it was. She would do her chemo, but she’d be fine. She’d be back at the office doing a speech or taking us to basketball.”
In 2008, Mari Katherine said her mother contracted pneumonia and her health began to deteriorate.
Still, she always had a smile on her face.
On Tuesday, Marianna’s family drove her 4 1/2 hours from a hospital in Salt Lake City to her home in Craig.
Mari Katherine said her mother refused to go to her bedroom when she arrived home to find numerous family and friends.
“She wanted to sit in the living room,” she said. “She wanted to be around her family. She sat there and watched and smiled.
“She wanted her home to be lively.”
Mari Katherine said family has traveled from all parts of the country to pay respect.
“There’s been an unimaginable amount of people here,” she said. “We’ve had just hundreds of calls and e-mails… friends that you haven’t been in contact with for a while. She just touched so many lives.”