Obituary for Helen Demetriou Stafford

8/28/1959 – 1/25/2021

Born Helen Demetriou, on August 28th of 1959, to Athina and Michael Demetriou, she was the sixth child of seven, and only the second born in America.  Helen was born in Teaneck, but grew up in Dumont, New Jersey during the peace-loving 70s, enjoying her friends, the Disco roller rink, and the music of The Doobie Brothers, The Beatles and Michael Jackson. Because of her Greek heritage, her friends called her Eleni.  Helen graduated from Dumont High-school in 1977 with plans to get out on her own and see what life had to offer. Helen worked in real-estate, becoming the number one Sales Agent nationwide for her company, before meeting her husband to be, Wendel Brian Stafford.  Helen and Wendel were married in December of 1992 after moving to Valrico, Florida to be closer to Helen’s sister, Chris, and to escape the bitter New Jersey winters.  Helen became an active member of First Baptist Church of Brandon, Florida where she and Wendel opened their home and their dinner table to their new friends and anyone they met who was hungry or in need.  Due to the passion they developed to provide for their community, Helen and Wendel began a food pantry mission at the church, which later evolved into the Compassion House, now feeding and providing for 100s of families in need in the Brandon area. Through their commitment to God and stewardship, Helen joined her husband in youth ministry, building life-long mentor relationships with countless teens.  Helen’s long-time love of children led her to want her own family and not too long after, Zion and Jade completed their lives and added a new level of love to the Stafford home.  Helen raised Zion and Jade with Wendel, served her community through the church, and worked various jobs until finding another passion and professional calling in the fine jewelry industry, where she worked for many years.  Sadly, the family lost Wendel in July of 2018, but Helen continued to raise her now teen-aged children on her own, giving them twice as much love after the loss of their Dad. Helen carried the household, working at Spath Jewelers in Valrico, her favorite professional position yet, where she felt part of an additional family until she retired due to illness in 2019.

Helen loved ALL things chocolate, her coffee and Coca-Cola, the smell of real leather, and rolls on the fat legs of babies. Known for her ability to accessorize, her favorite color was her signature fuchsia “hot pink” and she was always dressed with style; never caught without her heels and bling.  Her flare for anything that sparkled was her trade-mark and everyone knew the contrast of her bright lipstick against her black raven hair. Helen was loved deeply by a multitude of friends, family, and all who knew her; all recounting stories of hysterical laughter and quick-witted, soul-saving humor. There was never a time when Helen was out in her community where she wasn’t recognized, hugged, or engaged in conversation.  Even after Wendel’s passing, Helen continued to ensure that every child she encountered was fed and sheltered, making her home the center-point of her neighborhood.

After being diagnosed with Glioblastoma in 2019, followed by a long determined fight, Helen joined Wendel and passed peacefully at home on January 25, 2021, surrounded by those who loved her. May Helen find peace with the angels and her beloveds who came to guide her home.

Helen is preceded in death by her mother, Athina Arkadiou Demetriou, her father Michael Demetriou, brother, Andrew Demetriou, sister, Melanie Kassalias, and nephews John Kassalias and Micheal Kassalias.

Helen is survived by her two children; Zion Stafford and Jade Stafford, her sisters; Ann Hughs and Chris Mendler, and her brothers; William Demetriou and Jimmy Demetriou.  She will be dearly missed by her two grandsons who were the loves of her life, Zavion Stafford and Zaire Stafford, as well as countless nephews, nieces, in-laws, family members, and a close circle of friends she shared cherished relationships with.

In the end, the legacy we leave is in the impact we make on those around us and the memories we leave them with.  As Helen ascends to tranquility, she has left behind her gift of loving contribution, uplifting influence, and contagious spirit, which will remain with us always.

A private viewing was held at Brandon Cremation and Funeral Services on January 28, 2021.  A public celebration of Helen’s life and memorial service will follow on February 13, 2021 at First Baptist Church of Brandon; times and details to be announced.


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Sending love and prayers to all of Helens friends and family.

Sheri & Alex Kassalias