Maria Zannis, 101, who lived on her own in an apartment at Mashpee Commons until the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, died September 30 in Newton.
Ms. Zannis moved from Newton to her Mashpee apartment in 2015, and was known for having dinner nightly at the restaurants in Mashpee, mostly Estia where she led numerous line dances. She led a parade through Mashpee Commons and had a celebration at Estia when she turned 100. Family, friends and community members came out to see her celebratory ride and joined in for Greek dancing down the sidewalks.
Born in Boston to James and Jeanette Plakas, she was the eldest of five children.
Her family owned the Blue Diner in Boston, where she started working in the 1930s until she was married, in 1946, to Sarante (Bob) Zannis. Shortly after they were married, the couple opened a restaurant of their own, Sarantes, on Kneeland Street.
Ms. Zannis would continue working in the restaurant business until well into her 80s: at Jimmy’s Harborside, 1280 in Brookline, Off the Cuff in Wellesley, Tony’s Pizza in Newton, and eventually at college functions at Harvard University.
She took up ballroom dancing at the age of 75. Ms. Zannis could be found frequently at Mosley’s in Dedham—as well as other venues—about three times per week, and did this until she was 95. She also started exercising at a health club in her 70s and continued to the age of 100. She credited her longevity to good food and exercise.
Ms. Zannis had traveled the world with family and friends, including time spent at her timeshare in Aruba; California, England and France to visit her grandchildren; and trips to Asia, Hawaii, Norway and Denmark.
She leaves her children, Joanne Fox and her husband, Robert Fox, and James Zannis and his wife, Jackie Zannis; four grandchildren, Robert Fox, Nicole Depferd, Ruth Zannis and Kate Zannis; five great-grandchildren; a sister; and other family.
She was preceded in death by her other sister and two brothers.
A burial service was Wednesday, October 6, at Newton Cemetery in Newton Centre.
A celebration of her life will be Saturday, October 9, at 2 PM at the home of her daughter.