Sylvia Mary Sophiea, 91, passed away Thursday, November 21, 2013, in her Berkeley, California home with her family by her side. Sylvia, daughter of Elias Abourezk and Rose Samra, was born April 20, 1922, in Gregory, South Dakota. After her father’s early death, she was raised in Flint, Michigan, by her mother and stepfather, Anton Gantos. She married Frank Sophiea on November 25, 1945 and cherished 53 wonderful years with him.
Sylvia was highly respected and influential in the Flint community and beyond, serving tirelessly for 80 years as a community leader, activist, and organizer. She was an active member of the Arab American Heritage Council, a volunteer for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, a board member of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, and choir director of St. George Orthodox Church for 30 years. As a social worker/immigration specialist and finally executive director at the International Institute in Flint, she had a huge impact on the quality of life for immigrants of Flint and the neighboring communities.
After Frank died, she spent the final years of her life contented in Berkeley, California, where she was beloved by her neighbors and the grandmother of her community. She was a remarkable woman who loved her family, her church, her community, and her music.
She is survived by four children and their spouses: Dale Sophiea and wife, Elania Nanopoulos; Sylvia Elaine Reeves and husband, Doug; Cynthia Sophiea and husband, Jeff Rodman; Michele Newsham and husband, Pat. She is also survived by grandchildren Nico Sophiea, Katherine Reeves, Rebecca Rodman, Jessica VanderPloeg, Eiren Newsham, and Karolyn Newsham; great-grandchildren Sadie, Leit, Oliver, and Frances; and dear niece Sylvia Gantous. She leaves behind many cherished friends and cousins.
In lieu of flowers the family requests memorial contributions be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital or to a local hospice agency. The funeral will be held Tuesday, November 26th at 1:00 PM at Sunset View Cemetery, 101 Colusa Avenue, El Cerrito, CA 94530.
Please be sure to provide our contact information at time of donation so we are notified of your contribution in Sylvia’s memory. For email notification: firstname.lastname@example.org; for mail notification: Michele Newsham, 42064 Fremont Preserve Square, Stone Ridge, VA 20105