Hrisafie M. Sophocles, 97, of Bryn Mawr, a former pharmacist in Delaware County and a dedicated church worker, died Monday, Aug. 19, of complications from a stroke at Daylesford Crossing in Paoli.
Hrisafie is the Greek word for gold. Mrs. Sophocles was known as “Chrysi.” She was born in Bristol, Conn., to Constantine and Anna Mamatseos, who had come to the United States in the early 1900s.
From the time she could see over the counter, Mrs. Sophocles worked in her father’s candy and ice cream shop, the Palace of Sweets. She graduated from Bristol High School in Connecticut in 1939.
A whiz at math and science, she was one of a few women to graduate from what is now the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in Boston in 1943.
In 1944, she met and married Sophocles Michael Sophocles in Waterbury, Conn. A graduate of the Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Connecticut, he was ordained a priest and took the family to Ann Arbor, Mich., and Greece before settling in Media in 1959. After his death in 1979, she moved to Bryn Mawr.
For 30 years, Mrs. Sophocles worked as a pharmacist at Mackey’s Pharmacy in Newtown Square and the Lima Pharmacies in Lima. She maintained a connection with classmates at her pharmacy college in Massachusetts. In 2013, she returned for their 70th class reunion accompanied by two grandsons.
As a presvytera, the wife of a Greek Orthodox priest, Mrs. Sophocles held a position of honor in the community. Her husband had been a pastor and a dean at Widener University.
She was a member of St. Luke Greek Orthodox Church in Broomall, where she sang in the choir and was part of the Ladies Philoptochos, the philanthropic arm of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. The organization raises money to feed the hungry in the United States, help the needy in Greece and Cyprus, support the national shrine of the Greek Orthodox Church, and do nursing-home visitation.
Her efforts were singled out for national accolades by the Greek Orthodox Church. In 2014, she was honored for her service to the region while at St. Luke. In 2018, she received the 50th Philoptochos Pin at St. Luke, indicating a half-century of service.
“She was a selfless servant of the church who would move heaven and earth to be sure she didn’t miss any worship service or opportunity to help in any outreach activity, day in and day out,” said the Rev. Christ Kontos, pastor of St. Luke. “Her words were always few but spoke volumes as to her faith and love for family.”
After retiring at age 64, Mrs. Sophocles volunteered at area nursing homes and Bryn Mawr Hospital. She kept it up well into her 90s.
“She knitted baby blankets and booties for expectant mothers of families, friends, and strangers,” said her granddaughter Hrisafie Hariklea Hadgis.
A reader and adventurer, Mrs. Sophocles traveled with her grandchildren to five continents. She enjoyed nature, gardening, music, Scrabble, and going out for ice cream in Brigantine, N.J.
She was famous for making Greek delicacies from scratch. Her family was especially fond of her spanakopitas, or spinach pies, and koulourakia, a twisted butter cookie flavored with orange and vanilla.
“She had a contagious laugh and elevated all around her with her singsong voice, home cooking, and good humor,” her granddaughter said.
In addition to her granddaughter, Mrs. Sophocles is survived by daughter Anna Hadgis; a son, Michael; six other grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.
A viewing starting at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 27, will be followed by an 11 a.m. funeral service at St. Luke Greek Orthodox Church, 35 N. Malin Rd., Broomall, Pa. 19008. Burial is at Edgewood Memorial Park in Glen Mills.