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Constantina (Dina) Skouras Oldknow

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Constantina Dimitrios Skouras, Dina, was born in the rural village of Skourohorion, near Olympia, Greece, February 20, 1925. She was the sixth and last child of Athanasios Dimitrios Skouras and Sophia Karianos, from the island of Zakynthos. Dina’s father, and his three brothers were raised to be shepherds. In 1910 his brothers immigrated to the United States, leaving him to care for the family in Greece. Dina’s uncles Charles, George and Sypros Skouras settled in St. Louis, worked as bus boys and saved their money to invest in nickelodeons. In a classic rags to riches story, the three brothers were core pioneer families in the American movie industry, they rose to become top executives with Warner Brothers and 20th Century Fox in New York and Los Angeles. The brothers became celebrated Greek American personalities.

In 1928, at the age of 3 years, her family moved to Athens. On the advice of his brothers in America Dina’s father became a pioneer of the movie industry in Greece acquiring the now historic Attikon Theater. Dina grew up in Athens, where she attended high school at the Ionian School for Girls. She lived through the Second World War, and often helped her favorite brother, Thanos, with his political activities. When Greece was invaded he co-founded the Greek resistance movement called PEAN (Pan-Hellenic Union of Fighting Youths). In 1943 Thanos was arrested and later executed by the Nazi High Command in Athens.

In 1946 Dina immigrated to the United States aboard one of the first Liberty ships. After a summer in New York with her cousins, she went to Beverly Hills, California to live with her uncle, Charles P. Skouras. Although her English was limited, she enrolled at Scripps College in Claremont, where she excelled at her studies. In the fall of 1948, she was set up on a blind date with Billy Oldknow (William Henry Oldknow), whose father was a friend and business associate of Charles Skouras. Bill proposed to Dina after a whirlwind courtship of only three weeks. A month later of January 15, 1949, they were married in Bill’s faith at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Los Angeles. Dina and Bill shared an adventurous life together for 62 years until Bill’s death in July 2011.

While Bill built his successful drive-in theater and real estate businesses Dina became a homemaker and a volunteer for the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. Dina and Bill had four daughters, Elizabeth Louise, Theodora Sophia, Constintina William and Theresa Ann and settled in a house they built in San Marino. Later they moved to a larger, Italianate villa in San Marino, a home that was their passion and pride. It was Dina’s personal pleasure to open her beautiful home to numerous charities for fundraising events, in addition to annual Greek Easter barbeques and the countless memorable parties that she created for her large family and circle of friends. Actively involved in philanthropic pursuits, Dina and Bill were founding members and sponsors of many Los Angeles cultural institutions expanding during the 1960’s – 70’s, such as the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Music Center, the Los Angeles Ballet and the Los Angeles Opera Company, the Costume Council of The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Los Angeles Chapters of the ARCH Foundation (Achievement Rewards for College Scientist) and the National Charity League, the Luminaires, which supports the Doheny Eye Institute, and the Blue Ribbon 400, and the City of Los Angeles’s official hosting organization.

In 1959, Dina and Bill consecrated their marriage in the Greek Church with His All Holiness, the Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras of Constantinople. Deeply committed to the Greek Orthodox faith, they also found guidance from His Eminence Archbishop Iakovos of North and South America. Dina was appointed to the National Board of Directors of Philoptochos Society, the women’s philanthropic arm of the Greek Orthodoxy in 1977. At the request of His Eminence, Dina served as the seventh President of the National Board of the Philoptochos Society from 1990 – 1994. In this role, she visited each diocese in North and South America – from Toronto to Buenos Aires and from Boston to Honolulu.

In keeping with her commitment to pediatric medicine, the Philoptochos Society established the Children’s Medical Fund in her second term as president, Philoptochos grew in unprecedented ways. At the national convention, impassioned lay leaders pledged their support to create a new philanthropy, the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC). The IOCC contributes annually in support of the 350 million Orthodox Christians in Eastern Europe who joined the free world when communism fell and has always been a strong influence to building tolerance between Christians and neighboring communities of Islam and Judaism in the Middle East. After Dina’s retirement from the national stage, she served from 2007 to 2011 as President of the Los Angeles Chapter of the Philoptochos Society of Saint Sophia Cathedral, the Cathedral conceived and built by her uncle Charles P. Skouras in 1952. Dina often said that her years as National President of the Philoptochos were the most exciting and meaningful ones of her spiritual and philanthropic life. Dina Skouras Oldknow passed away October 28, 2014.

The Greek Heritage Society wishes to thank the family of Dina Oldknow for the information regarding her life. Editing of this information was done by Gus T. Dalis and Zoye Marino Fidler. The video was edited by Philip Georgious and Anna Giannotis when Dina was honored by the St. Sophia Philopthos Society in 2011.

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Contact Information
For further information or questions, please contact us.

Shelly Papadopoulos
(424) 261-GRGR (261-4747)
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(818) 386-1942
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