Barbara K. Valavanes (she was very proud of the Karpouzis name) lived to the ripe old age of ninety but of those ninety years, many of them had been lived with sad memories of a beloved son, lost to cancer in 1972 when he was only twenty-one. We would like to think that, today, this young man’s life could have been prolonged, even saved, by the advances made in cancer research since his untimely death. That is what keeps us motivated to keep going at NFCR and is one of the reasons why Barbara K. Valavanes chose to designate NFCR to be a recipient of a gift from her estate. She was introduced to our mission in 1975 by her daughter who was familiar with NFCR’s early support of our co-founder, Albert Szent-Györgyi.
Barbara had a huge impetus to “give back.” Early in life her family had to flee their loving home in Greece when it became an occupied country and, when they arrived in the U.S., the early years were difficult as they coincided with the Great Depression and the loss of her father in 1939.
Barbara’s life was long, active and productive and she influenced countless people as a result of her charismatic personality and the many community activities in which she was involved and all while she worked as a teacher of English as a Foreign Language for over 30 years. Barbara participated in Veterans organizations, Memorial and Loyalty Day parades, Girl Scout Leadership, and the Planning Committee for the 250th celebration of Lancaster, PA, her adopted home. She was a devoted and active member of Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church where she taught Sunday School for over 30 years. She visited those in the hospital and shut-ins and served in Prison Ministry for 35 years. This is far from a complete listing of Barbara’s interests and activities but it gives you a picture of a woman who lived a life dedicated to love of and care for others. Barbara received many awards for her community involvement but her greatest reward was in seeing others flourish.
The National Foundation is deeply honored and grateful that our mission of cancer research to find new and better ways to prevent, diagnose and treat all types of cancer was supported and valued by Barbara Karpouzis Valavanes, not only during her amazing life but in her estate planning also. NFCR is proud to be numbered among the many institutions she supported and, like her, we are committed to saving and helping our fellow human beings through Research for a Cure.