Penelope Foudeas was the kind of person who lifted the spirits of everyone around her.
Whether the master’s of nutrition student was visiting her father’s native Greece or assisting patients at a Columbus children’s hospital, she brought energy and enthusiasm to almost every experience—even the remote learning and other restrictions the pandemic required.
“Being with Penelope made it more than bearable,” her boyfriend Joe Matts explained. “She was always wonderful and sunny and made the best of everything.”
Foudeas died last month after injuries sustained in a skiing accident in her hometown of Anchorage, Alaska. She was 22.
Foudeas and Matts, a Case Western Reserve law student, came to Cleveland last summer after earning undergraduate degrees at The Ohio State University. She had majored in psychology with a minor in Modern Greek while also working at Nationwide Children’s Hospital her senior year. Last summer she began working as a patient assistant at Cleveland Clinic; more recently she had decided she wanted to enter the medical school’s physician assistant program.
In addition to her passion for medicine and helping others, Foudeas had adored dance since she was six. She studied ballet, tap, and jazz and then, at 12 joined the Anchorage Greek Dancing troop, where she performed in the traditional style of her father’s home country.
“Penelope and I bonded sharing stories about our Greek heritage,” said Hope Barkoukis, chair for the Department of Nutrition and creator and faculty lead of the Mandel Wellness Pathway. “She was positive and vivacious, and we both shared our love of food and anything about being Greek. We talked about our favorite desserts, our passion for cooking and the Greek way of living to eat healthy, delicious food for the sheer joy it brings.”
Foudeas visited Greece many times with her father, and also studied the language while there. Her travels also included Colorado, the Florida Keys and Utah. She had flown home last month to spend time with her family after completing exams.
Fodeas is survived by her father, Pete, her mother, Elvie, brother, Dikeos, and extended family in Alaska, Greece and the Philippines.