Mary Despina Likas, MD, a pioneer in the Rhode Island medical community, died on January 24, 2023 at the age of 94. She was the beloved wife of the late Harold W. Picozzi. They enjoyed a beautiful view of Narragansett Bay, and were longtime residents of the Narragansett Terrace neighborhood of Bullocks Point in East Providence. Dr. Mary, as she was fondly called by all who knew her, and Harold were married for 31 years.
Of proud Greek American descent in Worcester, MA, Dr. Mary was the daughter of the late Spyridon Peter Likas and Mersini S. (Manolio) Likas and sister of the late Theodore B. Likas. She was survived by numerous nieces, nephews, and godchildren.
Dr. Marie has received dozens of recognitions and honors spanning more than 60 years of her career, and has been a pioneer for women practicing medicine with outstanding academic, professional, civic, and philanthropic achievements. An otolaryngologist specializing in head and neck surgery, she was the first woman to head the Department of Otolaryngology at a Rhode Island hospital, as Chief Surgeon from 1983 until she retired in 1996. She was also the first woman to hold the position of Clinical Professor of Otolaryngology at Brown University School of Medicine. Dr. Mary was the first woman on the East Coast to become a Fellow of the Trilogical Society, the most prestigious society in her specialty. In 1980, she was chosen as the first woman elected president of the New England Society of Otolaryngology. In 1992, Dr. Marie was named Physician of the Year in Rhode Island, and received the President’s Certificate from the Triological Society in 1993. The honors continued through 1996, the year of her retirement, by the American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Foundation and the American Society For diseases of the bronchi and esophagus.
Dr. Marie’s academic credentials included a Bachelor of Arts degree from Clark University, Worcester, Massachusetts in 1949, where she was the only woman in her class studying pre-med. She received a graduate degree from Boston University and an M.D. with honors from the University of Athens School of Medicine, and completed her residency at three locations – Memorial Hospital in Worcester, Rhode Island Hospital in Providence, and at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Otolaryngology and Neck Surgery. Dr. Mary received her Master of Science degree from Brown University and, in her later years, was Clinical Professor Emeritus of Surgery at Brown University School of Medicine.
Her career has included private practice with privileges at Rhode Island Hospital, St. Joseph’s Hospital, Veterans Administration Hospital, and Miriam Hospital. She was past president of the Providence Medical Society and recipient of the Providence Medical Society Distinguished Service Award.
In 1997, Dr. Marie and Harold founded the Dr. Marie Despina Likas MDDSc Centre. He holds a chair in biology at Clark University. In the same year, Dr. Marie was awarded an honorary doctorate (Doctor of Science) degree from Clark University which recognized her impressive career. In 2007, she created the Mary De Lecas Fund for the Advancement of Women in Medicine at Brown University School of Medicine. Known for saying “it’s an attitude with gratitude,” Dr. Mary believed in giving back and supported many philanthropic endeavors throughout her life.
While her academic and professional credentials marked the public side of Dr. Mary’s life, she also lived in a glorious parallel universe rooted in her Greek heritage, belief in God, and Eastern Orthodox faith. With a passion for art, music, and philanthropy, Dr. Marie has been an active member of the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Cranston, Rhode Island, where she sings in the church choir, serves as a member of the Philoptochos of the Good Samaritan Ladies and regularly attends Divine Mass services, special lectures, programs, and Bible study classes. . Her faith in God was so great, that she salvaged a collection of icons from the parish’s original location on Pine Street in Providence and displayed the historic icons in her home along with other artwork she had collected over the years.
In recognition of her service to the Church of the Annunciation, Dr. Mary is the recipient of the 2009 Boston Metropolis Award.
Dr. Marie was the main beneficiary of the Annunciation Parish Endowment Fund, established in her honor as the “Dr. Marie Despina Likas Endowment Fund”, ensuring that church services will continue for generations. At a meeting in her honor for her generous donations, Dr. Mary stated: “I am doing this for the young people of our parish, so that they may perpetuate the faith and traditions of our church.”
Special appreciation is given to caregiver and companion Judy Antonelli, a “good and loyal maid” whose devotion to Dr. Mary was boundless to the end. Above all, our deepest gratitude goes to Dr. Mary’s dear friend and fellow Clark University alumnus, Thomas M. Dolan, Esquire.
Dr. Mary Lukass lived life to the fullest with love in her heart, deep humility, kindness and appreciation not only for what she was able to achieve but also for the gifts made to her through her trust in God. Dr. Mary formulated her life based on her poetic creativity: “Life is a song. Love is music. A symphony of faith, and may God deliver us together.”
On behalf of all that you have done for so many people throughout your life, we thank you, Dr. Mary. May your memory be eternal.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in memory of Dr. Mary to the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation. Mary Despina Licas Endowment Fund, 175 Oaklawn Street, Cranston, RI 02905 or online at www.announceri.org.
Friends and relatives are invited to pay their respects on Tuesday, January 31, 2023 at 9:00 AM at the Church of the Annunciation, 175 Oaklawn Street, Cranston, RI, 02920, with a funeral service immediately following at 10:00 AM.
Condolences and memories can be shared at www.WoodlawnRI.com.
Posted online Jan 28, 2023
Published in Worcester Telegram & Gazette