Asiemoula never knew her father, who was sent to Siberian prison in 1937, part of Soviet ethnic cleansing. She was 12 years old when her mother learned, from a fellow prisoner in Siberia who had escaped, that her father had been executed.
"After that she put on a black dress and never took it off, " Asiemoula Papadopoulos said of her mother in a 2006 interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
In 1939, Asiemoula escaped to Greece with her mother and four siblings. There, she would eventually meet her late husband, John Papadopoulos, who was born in Ukraine and had also fled Stalin’s ruthless crackdown on the Greek community.
The young couple moved to Massachusetts in 1963 with two young sons and $300 in their pocket, Sandy Papadopoulos said.
John Papadopoulos worked nights in a tool-and-dye factory and picked up some extra money working days at a pizzeria. Three years later, he took the first of many successful risks, paying the owner of the restaurant where he worked $1,000 for his pizza recipe, Sandy Papadopoulos said.
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