Sophie DemitrackAugust 6, 2017
Sophie Andrew Arvanitis Demitrack
1925 - 2017
Sophie Andrew Arvanitis Demitrack, beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, passed away on August 6, 2017, at the age of 92. Her life was filled with love and kindness, and she remained the heart of a far-flung family. She was born the last of seven children on February 10, 1925, in the first floor bedroom of the family home in Lynn, Massachusetts, to Andrew and Zoe Arvanitis. Her first language was Greek, a reflection of her heritage, and of the close-knit immigrant community in which she was raised. She never knew her older sister, Chrysoula, who died from polio when she was a toddler, so she grew up as the baby sister to five brothers. Arvanitis’ family life centered around St. George’s Greek Orthodox Church and her father’s store, the Olympia Candy Company. She remembered attracting customers on the 4th of July by setting off Roman candles and other fireworks in front of the store. Her father was a very social man, and she recalled her mother’s being prepared to feed any dinner guests he might bring home on short notice. Sophie graduated from Lynn Classical High School in 1942, where she was nominated to the National Honor Society. She worked for a year on the assembly line at the General Electric factory in Lynn making airplane potentiometers, but with her brothers’ help, she overcame her mother’s objections and enrolled in Lynn Hospital School of Nursing in 1943. At the same time, she joined the U.S Cadet Nurse Corps with the expectation that she would become an army nurse after graduation. By the time she had completed her studies in 1946, the war was over, but she was always proud of her cadet nurse training and the patriotism that it evidenced. For her first job, she worked as a visiting nurse in the North End of Boston, where she changed dressings, administered medicine to shut-ins, and instructed new mothers in healthy child-rearing practices. Next, she moved to New York to take a job as a visiting nurse in East Harlem, where she walked miles every day doing home visits. She loved her work and the people she encountered, and she later told us how appreciated she felt in the immigrant communities she served. She met her husband , George, at a New Year’s Eve party at his parents’ home in the Bronx in 1950, but it wasn’t until three years later, when they met again at a Greek-American Institute dance, that they became a couple. For their first date, George took her to see ‘The King and I’ on Broadway starring Yul Brynner. On other dates, she remembered swimming at Jones Beach and riding bicycles in Van Cortland Park. They were married at St. George’s Church in Lynn, Massachusetts, on April 26, 1953, and made their home in Denville, N.J., at 17 Indian Spring Trail, where they built a house, raised three children, and lived for 62 years. Sophie was a stay-at-home Mom until 1969, when she was hired as a school nurse in the Denville School District. She worked there for 21 years, at Main Street Elementary School until it closed in 1982, and then at Valleyview Middle School until 1990. She later said that retiring was a most difficult decision because she enjoyed her work so much. After retirement, Sophie and George traveled extensively with the Elderhostel program, participating in 24 programs across the US over the next 8 years. They were founding members of St. Andrew’s Greek Orthodox Church in Dover (later Randolph) in 1962, where she served as the first president of the Philoptochos, taught in the Sunday school, and served on the Philoptochos scholarship committee for many years. She was also active in the Denville Kiwanis organization. Over the last 20 years of her life, Sophie focused her energies on family -- planning and hosting many family reunions at the house on Indian Spring Trail, for which she happily cooked and baked for days beforehand. She passed on her family recipes, and delighted in the thought that her grandchildren would be continuing the baking tradition that she had inherited from her mother. She also devoted many years to writing a family history and scanning thousands of family photos into her computer, so that succeeding generations would know their roots. She was a cherished Yiayia, and her voice and George’s are still alive in the recordings that she made of their conversations with the grandchildren as they grew up. She is survived by her three children, Thomas, Anne, and Mark, her eight grandchildren, Elise, Laura, Clark, Eric, Sophie, Molly, Zoe, and Maia, her three great-grandchildren, Caleb, Joshua, and Jonathan, and many nieces and nephews. Her husband George predeceased her in December 2016. She will be dearly missed. May her memory be eternal.
St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Church
900 S. Trooper Rd., Norristown PA 19403