(Updated at 11:25 a.m.) As Eastern Market was closed to customers on Monday, beloved neighborhood grocer Maria Calomiris died among family.
Calomiris, who helped run her family’s produce stand in the market for more than 50 years, died of cancer. She was 76.
Her son Leon said at Thomas Calomiris & Son’s last night that his mother learned she had cancer in August 2013. But she continued to work until April at the stand she opened in 1963.
Maria Calomiris was “my anchor and many people’s,” her son said.
“She had a way with people,” he said. “She had a way with children,” often giving them pieces of fruit.
Several customers visited the market on Monday to offer their condolences, some crying, Leon Calomiris said.
A banana with a black bow hung from the stand Monday night, with a note that said, “Thank you for always being so wonderful and gracious. Rest well.”
Eastern Market vendors remembered the Maryland resident’s smile and generosity.
“She was a sweet lady,” said florist Yolanda Turner of Eastern Market’s Blue Iris. “All the little kids loved her.”
Calomiris is survived by three children and five grandchildren.
Her funeral will be held 10:30 a.m. Monday at Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral (2815 36th St. NW). In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Juan Jose Canales, who owns Canales Deli, said she was grateful to Calomiris for making him feel welcome when he opened his stand in 1983.
“It’s a great loss for the market,” he said.