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Longtime Waynesboro candy shop owner dies in Greece

December 06, 2007|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - The woman known for engaging customers in conversation at her downtown Waynesboro chocolates store has died.

Despina Leos came to the United States from Greece in 1947 and was a fixture at the Candy Kitchen ever since. The smiling, apron-clad woman would often give away more chocolates than she sold, encouraging visitors to try several varieties of her sweets.

Her daughter, Elaini Tsoukatos, said Leos died Saturday in Greece and will be remembered at a memorial service scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday at St. Andrew Catholic Church in Waynesboro.

"The community has been extremely sad on her loss," Tsoukatos said, saying she received many phone calls and flowers this week.

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Leos had been in failing health since suffering a broken hip in July, Tsoukatos said.

Despina, whose maiden name was Sakelariou, married the late Petros Leos on Feb. 5, 1948, and joined him at the Candy Kitchen, which opened in 1902. The family opened locations in Frederick and Hagerstown, the latter of which thrived about 20 years ago on Public Square before closing.

"She used to run the Hagerstown store, but the past few years she stayed in Waynesboro," Tsoukatos said.

Tsoukatos described her mother as "a magnet that attracted everybody."

"She was one of those people you just look forward to being around because she made you feel good. And of course it helped that she gave away the best-tasting chocolate. She made you feel that you were somebody that she was always looking forward to seeing again," said Christopher Unger, a customer at the Candy Kitchen.

She gave chocolate to delivery people and other people who weren't even customers, Unger said.

"I was a frequent visitor in the Candy Kitchen. Even though the chocolates were very good, visiting with Despina was a better treat," Unger said.

Mayor Richard Starliper called Leos "a lovely lady" and said she will be missed greatly.

"I just really think she touched everybody with her warm smile. ... It was her love of people that brought her in the store. She felt drawn to people so much," Tsoukatos said.

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