Janet Olga Elias, 85, of New Kensington, passed away Monday, November 15, 2021 peacefully with her loving family by her side. She was born on October 9, 1936 in New Kensington, PA, to the late Tofik Hardaway and Helen Salmane Hardaway. She lived in the area all of her life along with her loving husband of over 60 years, James Elias. While James (“Jimmy”) and his brother George operated Elias Auto Body in Arnold, Janet embraced countless duties at home and in the community, raising their four children, caring for both Jimmy’s and her parents and other family members that needed a hand all while somehow volunteering an extraordinary amount time to her “second family” - St. George Orthodox Church. When you entered the Elias home, and especially Janet’s kitchen, you were greeted by the warm aromas of homemade Syrian food that tasted even better. And while many tried to follow her recipes, there was a not-so-secret ingredient that was special to her – meals made with genuine care and love followed by entertaining conversation at her big wooden kitchen table where she held court with family, friends, and strangers. She was never surprised by who Jimmy might bring home for a much-needed meal. And if he didn’t find a guest he made sure Janet had enough for take-out meals he would deliver to a neighbor in need. The strong family values to care for each other as well as a neighbor or stranger because “there is always someone less fortunate than you” were not lost on the children, especially her grandchildren. Nothing gave Sito more joy than passing on her wisdom and teaching her children and grandchildren. She and Jimmy never let a “teaching moment” pass by. She was a best friend to each of her 4 children, never letting a day (sometimes only hours or minutes!) go by without a phone call (or 2 or 3) to check in on daily events or to be there for them on a more difficult day. However, the arrival of grandchildren would take her undivided attention – she had special new children to care for and teach. From the day they were born, she read to each one as long and as often as possible, graduating to crosswords and word puzzles as they got older – anything to challenge the mind. As they grew, attended college, started new jobs and careers, she would look forward to hearing about their unique experiences in a new, exciting world – and bragging to her many loving friends. Her old school charm with a modern outlook kept her grandchildren in her daily life. Sito loved games and her grandkids loved playing along while catching up with Sit on life. Her fondness (and secret vice) was to occasionally play the penny slot machines – with the kids looking forward to the day they would be old enough to join her. But nothing topped a game of Scrabble with Sito. She taught them early and played often, including every Christmas where they played until dinner turned into breakfast. Sito shared wise thoughts and told stories and somehow still manage to beat you by 50 points! Sito may be worth 4 points in Scrabble, but she will always be priceless to her children and grandchildren. She will be greatly missed by everyone whose life she touched. Survivors include one son, James P. (Georgine) Elias, of New Kensington, and three daughters, Cathy (David) Firek, of Allegheny Township, Barbara (Alex) LePore of Glenshaw and Paula (James) DeLuca of New Kensington. Janet is also survived by many other loving nieces and nephews and other relatives. “Sito” is survived by her proudest legacy – 8 loving grandchildren: Jordan Elias, Slone Elias, Alexander LePore (Michela), Gabriella LePore, Nicoletta LePore, Jenna DeLuca, Jacob Firek and Julianna Firek. In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her brother, Charles Hardaway of New Kensington. Family and friends will be received at St. George Orthodox Church on Friday November 19 from 4:00pm – 8:00pm (Trisagion Prayers begin at 7:30pm) and Saturday November 20 from 11:00am – 12:00pm. Orthodox Funeral service will follow immediately also in St. George Orthodox Church, 1150 Leishman Ave., New Kensington, PA 15068. The Funeral service will be arranged by Giunta-Bertucci Funeral Home. Burial will be in Greenwood Memorial Park, Lower Burrell. In lieu of flowers contributions may be made to St. George Orthodox Church Building Fund, 1150 Leishman Ave., New Kensington, PA 15068.
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