Longtime resident of East Carbon City (Dragerton), Sophie Sterlekar Sunter, born May 7, 1918, in Sunnyside, Colo., entered God's hands on Oct. 20, 2012, Price at the age of 94.
Growing up during the Great Depression Sophie was the daughter of Anna Gorsic Sterlekar and Anton Sterlekar who immigrated to the United State in the early 1900s from Slovenia. Sophie spoke both Slovenian and English and she proudly represented her heritage through her cooking, baking and polka dancing. Sophie went to school in Spring Glen and was a track ace in the 1930s and as a sprinter won many gold medals. She walked to Helper daily as a young teen to work in the Helper Laundry for 10 cents per hour. Sophie understood hardship and always worked very hard.
Sophie met the love of her life, Frank Sunter, at the roller rink located on the Blue Cut highway between Spring Glen and Helper. Frank saw Sophie and fell in love with her on the spot. He knew he would marry her and went to great lengths to win her. He said she was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. It was true, Sophie was very beautiful both inside and outside.
Sophie and Frank eloped on the solstice, Dec. 21, 1936, when she was 19 and he was 27 years old. They lived for a short time in Pioche, Nev. What fun they had there! She worked in a laundry and Frank worked in the mines. They soon decided to come home to Carbon County where they recommitted themselves to each other in a marriage at St. Anthony's Catholic Church in Helper.
Sophie and Frank were dedicated to the U.M.W.A. where Frank held the position of president of the local for many years. Sophie was always there to support the union and the livelihood it provided for the people of Carbon County. She loved politics and volunteered for the campaigns of those whom she believed would bring honor and dignity to ordinary people. She was a Democrat to the core. She was taught by her family the privilege of choosing our government. Sophie instilled this passion in her family, impressing on them the responsibility and honor of voting. Sophie was a charter member of the SNPJ Lodge, an organization dedicated to helping Slovenian people. She was a dedicated member of the Catholic faith and belonged to the Good Shepherd Church in East Carbon City, for at least 70 years.
Sophie's hobbies were many. As a young woman she played baseball in a women's league at first base. Her nickname was "Lefty".. She was quite the fisherwoman too. Her left handed casting talent was a sight to behold. Frank and Sophie always grew a massive garden. Frank planted the seeds and Sophie canned all the vegetables they grew. They both loved camping, fishing and hunting. Sophie excelled at cooking, canning and baking and always wanted to feed everyone. She will forever be remembered for her hospitality. When you visited with Sophie you had better be ready to eat seconds. Who would not be ready to eat seconds - her food was so delicious. She made fried chicken, pork roast, chicken soup, blood sausage, barley soup, apricot pie, strudel and potica better than anyone. Sophie was a real card shark. She taught everyone how to play casino, losing occasionally (on purpose) to her grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Another hobby that Sophie enjoyed was crocheting. She could crochet like a machine. She made every family member an afghan right down to the nine great grandchildren. She had a great sense of humor. Once she and her sister Julie shot their own elk and brought it home in the camper stopping along the way at a few taverns to show the men inside just what a woman could do with a rifle. On Halloween Sophie and her sister dressed up in full suit gorilla costumes and went to the dance where they cut in on all the couples never letting anyone know who they were.
Sophie was a lot of fun. She worked until she was 80 years old. After her days in the laundry in Helper and Pioche, Nev., she worked in East Carbon at Andy's CafÃ©. She loved all the kids who frequented the malt shop and they loved her. Everyone knew her as Aunt Sophie. She even received mail addressed simply to Aunt Sophie. The post office knew just who that person was. In the small town of Dragerton, there were not many jobs but Sophie always managed to find one. She worked at the Union Supply store as a clerk and at the local drug store. Her last job was at Carbon Medical in East Carbon. Wherever she worked she made lasting friendships.
During retirement Sophie and Frank enjoyed spending time at their summer cabin in Joe's Valley. They loved to make a bonfire outside while looking at the stars at night and in the day they worked hard at fixing up their place. They still managed to visit all their good fishing holes.
Frank and Sophie also enjoyed visiting with their two daughters, Barbara and Loretta. This took them from California to Colorado. Sophie made sure to be there to help bring each of her five grandchildren into the world. She taught Barbara and Loretta all the tricks of taking care of newborn babies. She gave each of those babies their first bath. Each of those five babies have grown up and have babies of their own. They all love their grandma with all their hearts and continue to pass on her teachings to their own kids.
Sophie is preceded in death by her loving husband Frank Sunter; mother Anna Gorsic Sterlekar; father Anton Sterlekar; two sisters, Julie Warren and Annie Vuksinick; one brother Albert Sterlekar and great granddaughter Madison Crawford.
She is survived by her loving daughter Loretta Sunter Tucker and son-in-law Dr. Michael Tucker and their children: granddaughter Jodi Tucker and her partner David Young and her children great-grandson Kevin and great-grandson Jordan; granddaughter Lori Tucker-Eccher and husband Doug Eccher and their children great-grandson Franklin and great granddaughter Josephine Retta; granddaughter Lisa Tucker Crawford and husband Dave Crawford and their children great-granddaughter Sophia Joan and great-grandson Nicholas. She is also survived by her loving daughter Barbara Sunter Hyatt and son-in-law David Hyatt and their children: granddaughter Alyson Hyatt Johnson and husband Jerry Hyatt Johnson and their child great grandson Cameron; granddaughter Ana Hyatt and husband Josh Camire and their child great grandson Vincent Hawk. Also surviving Sophie are numerous nieces and nephews and their families.
Sophie was the longest living member of a large family that dearly loves her. She will always be remembered for her hospitality and her strength of character. She will be sorely missed by her many friends, family and community. Her bright, sparkling eyes and her winning smile will be missed by her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. They will carry her love in their hearts where she will live forever.
Funeral service, Monday, Oct. 29, 2012, 10 a.m., Mitchell Funeral Home. Vigil service, Sunday evening at 7 p.m. at Mitchell Funeral Home. Family will be at Mitchell's Sunday and Monday one hour prior to services. Committal service, Mt. View Cemetery, Helper. A luncheon for all attending will be held at St Anthony's Catholic Church in Helper immediately following the Committal.
The family wants to thank the entire staff at the Pinnacle Rehabilitation and Nursing Facility and the Rocky Mountain Hospice for their loving care. Arrangements entrusted to Mitchell Funeral Home of Price where friends are welcome daily and may share memories of Sophie online at www.mitchellfuneralhome.net.