BY SUSAN M. BRACKNEY (Bloom Magazine contributor)
Becky (Anton) Hrisomalos packed something extra when she came to Bloomington to attend Indiana University in 1949—a strong desire to serve others. “I remember my father saying, ‘Do for your community. Do whatever you can to help this wonderful country!’” Hrisomalos says. A first-generation American, Hrisomalos was raised in South Bend by Greek immigrant parents who instilled values of selflessness and hard work in their children.
Nearly 70 years later, Hrisomalos still lives—and volunteers—in Bloomington. She’s been so indispensable that she’s netted an Indiana Governor’s Award, the Bloomington Northside Exchange Club’s Book of Golden Deeds Award, the Local Council of Women’s President’s Award, and other honors. This November, she’ll receive the Rotary Club Service Above Self Award.
The 88-year-old remains active with Friends of the Library, and still works for Meals on Wheels—a program she started here some 40 years ago. Of that time, she recalls, “On days when nobody had a car, the fire station and the police would help deliver meals. It was a community project that they all wanted to work.”
When Hrisomalos fell in love with Bloomington as a student, she also fell for and married Frank Hrisomalos, a “Bloomington boy” studying pre-med. His parents had been Greek immigrants, too. “We lived right where Peoples Park is now,” she says. “There used to be a house there.”
Eventually, the pair built a new home in the country. “There was no College Mall yet,” she says. “It was still all cows and barns.” There, the couple would look after their elderly mothers and raise four children—three of whom still live
At the age of 50, Hrisomalos earned a master’s degree in social work. She worked at Bloomington Hospital for 23 years—17 as director of social services—and was once named Region 6 Social Worker of the Year by the Indiana Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. She’s now retired—and widowed after 64 years of marriage.
She still lives in that “country” home, although the cows and barns are long gone. “I have wonderful neighbors,” she says. “They’re all students. We have cookies and Greek pastries, so they’re friends as well. Right now, I’m hosting a student from South Korea, and I love that!” She’s contemplating hosting a second student from another country soon.
After all these years, she’s still in love with her adopted city. “I’m always grateful that Bloomington is so welcoming,” she says. “Bloomington has been wonderful to me and our family, and I love being able to do whatever I can.”