Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Marina Counelis Obituary (2022) – Albuquerque, NM

Marina Christina Counelis

Beloved wife, mother, and grandmother, Marina Christina Counelis, fell asleep in the Lord, on Tuesday, August 2, 2022, after a valiant battle with pancreatic and lung cancer. She was preceded in death by her parents, Christos and Olympia Makrodimitris; son, Perry B. (Christos) Miller, Jr.; and sister, Stavroula M. Romero. She is survived by her husband, Spiros Counelis; children, Gregory James Miller (Madeleine) and Joni Christina Garnham (John); grandsons, Perry Spyro and George Steven Miller; sister, Panagiota Skaltsis; nephews, Panagiotis (Pete) and Alexandros Skaltsis; and many cousins ​​and other families.

Marina was born on Friday, August 4, 1939, in Piraeus, Greece, the youngest of three daughters. Born in the shadows of World War II, life was not always easy, but she felt secure in her family, and she especially adored her mother who was very loving and doted on her. Tragically, she lost her mother in 1949 at the age of 10.

Marina emigrated to the United States in 1956, joining her eldest sister, Stavroula, in Albuquerque, working at her uncle’s restaurant, the New Yorker Café, on 4th Street. She later married and started a family, but tragedy would strike her life again, when as a young mother, she lost her first son. However, Marina persevered. She left Albuquerque in 1959, living in Florida, Germany, Kansas, Kentucky and Oklahoma. In 1972, Marina moved back to Albuquerque and opened Zorba’s Restaurant on Central Avenue, introducing gyros to New Mexico and bringing the first belly dancers to the supper club in 1975. In 1978, she met Spiros Counelis, whom she married in 1981. Moving to Farmington, they opened their first restaurant, Marina’s Family Restaurant, which they sold six years later and returned to Albuquerque. Marina and Spiro then opened the Olympia Cafe across the street from the University of New Mexico in 1988. After 20 highly successful years, they sold the business and in 2010 moved to a new location and opened Zorba’s Fine Greek Cuisine, where they stayed to this day.

As Marina became less and less active with the restaurant, she enjoyed staying home to pursue more leisurely activities. She loved cooking, gardening, spending time with her grandsons and “foraging for horta.” She was an avid backgammon player but most of all, loved attending church and visiting with her friends there.

Marina will always be remembered for her great determination, courage, and compassion. She was extremely generous, always helping the less fortunate. She was known for her stubbornness, which was the reason she was able to battle terminal cancer for almost 20 months. She passed two days shy of her 83rd birthday.

Pallbearers are Gregory Miller, Perry Spyro Miller, George Miller, John Garnham, Pete Skaltsis, and Patrick Panagopoulos. Honorary pallbearers are Alex Skaltsis, Peter Georgiakakis, Paul Gesner, Lyndon Gesner, Dr. Thanasi Manole, and Mark Probasco.

Visitation will be Monday, August 8, 2022, 6:00 pm, at FRENCH-Lomas, with a Trisagion being read at 7:00 pm Funeral services, officiated by Frs. Conan Gill and John Bakas, will be held Tuesday August 9, 2022, 10:00 am, at St. George Greek Orthodox Church, 308 High Street SE. A Makaria meal will be served following Entombment at Sunset Memorial Park, 924 Menaul Blvd NE.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to St George Greek Orthodox Memorial Fund, 308 High Street SE, Albuquerque NM, 87102. Please visit our online guestbook for

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Published by on Aug. 7, 2022.

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