Life Story / Obituary
Sophie McDonough was a bright individual, accomplished professional and caring woman. She was loving yet firm, hard-working and generous, selfless and strong. When hardships came, she never complained and when good things came her way, she was always grateful. Sophie’s faith was important to her and it guided her thoughts and actions in ways both great and small.
Sophie was born August 31, 1926 in Chicago, Illinois as the nation was rebuilding its economy following the First World War. By the end of the decade, stock markets fell and countries around the world experienced long years of economic depression. The Mozol family moved to Racine, Wisconsin, where Sophie’s father found work in a factory, and her mother cared for their four children at home: Walter, Olga, John and Sophie. Given the struggles of the time and the efforts of her parents, Sophie learned a work ethic and frugality that never left her.
Perhaps because she was the youngest child of Michael and Anna Mozol (nee Szeman), Sophie became a “daddy’s girl.” On Sundays, she and her father walked to the Racine Zoo or to the office of the Racine Journal Times. The newspaper was posted on the outside wall of the building and her dad would stand to read it in full.
Sophie and her sister Olga were very close, and many years later, they came to live two doors away from each other on Mount Pleasant Street in Racine. John was a bit more guarded about his baby sister, and when she commandeered his bicycle to learn how to ride, he wasn’t keen on the idea. To check up on her, John marked the tires to know if Sophie had moved the bike.
Sophie was educated in the local public school system in Racine and graduated from Horlick High School in 1944. Already in high school, she was working at Golden Books and gaining experience that landed her another job after high school. Wisconsin Bell telephone company was canvassing neighborhoods for new workers, and Sophie’s father volunteered her. That was the beginning of more than thirty years with AT&T (formerly Wisconsin Bell) in which Sophie worked in the office, with dispatch for trouble-shooting and finally in payroll. Her career was interrupted for several years, but being a valued employee, Sophie easily returned to AT&T where she remained until her retirement.
The “interruption” came as an indirect result of a blind date. Sophie’s sister arranged for her to meet James H. McDonough, who had moved to Racine from Mondovi, Wisconsin to look for work. That first meeting sparked a romance that blossomed into love and commitment. They married on February 11, 1956, and a year later, they moved into a house they built on Mount Pleasant Street, which became their lifelong home. They began their family with the birth of their daughter Sally Anne, and 15 months later they welcomed their son James Michael. The family was made complete 18 months later with the birth of their son Thomas Henry. Only when the children were all in school did Sophie return to work at AT&T, but by then, the children had learned many life lessons from a loving disciplinarian called “Mom.” Knowing that it wasn’t wise to get her mad because she would administer instant justice, the children were well-behaved, a true complement to the manners and politeness that Sophie instilled in them.
With James working second shift at Rexnord as a machinist and later as an inspector, Sophie was full time caregiver for her young children during the day. The home cooked meals were as memorable as the chore list that Sophie posted on the refrigerator. The children rotated jobs that needed to be done, and in the meantime they learned to be responsible. Sophie’s best method of teaching was by example. Besides the cooking, cleaning and laundry, she maintained a garden in summer and shoveled snow in winter. Often after the kids had gone to bed, Sophie cleared the driveway and sidewalks, so that by the time they awoke, that chore had already been done.
Sophie and Jim supported their children in many activities and by their involvement in parent committees. Their sons Jim and Tom joined the Racine Scout Drum and Bugle Corps and daughter Sally the Regals Drill Team, which kept both parents busy attending competitions and parades in which they performed. However, the busyness gave way to relaxation when the family took vacation in Mondovi to visit James’ family.
In her free time, Sophie enjoyed knitting and doing crossword puzzles in the Racine Journal Times. At Christmastime, she made slippers for the family or seat covers for the cars. She was so well-versed at doing the newspaper’s daily crossword puzzle that she even completed a puzzle that had been printed backwards. Only after she had solved the puzzle did she call the paper to complain. Further evidence of her intelligence was apparent when anyone needed to know how to spell a word or get directions. Sophie was known as a walking dictionary and atlas.
After long careers and countless family responsibilities, Sophie and James made plans for their retirement. They purchased a house in Alma, Wisconsin on a beautiful spot that faced the Mississippi River. They spent a good deal of effort remodeling and putting an addition onto the home. November 23, 1985 was Sophie’s last day with AT&T, but just two days later, James died unexpectedly on November 25, 1985. It was heartbreaking for Sophie and the family. She persevered with the help of her faith and the activity of caring for a granddaughter while the parents were at work. Young children can be a lifeline, and Sophie extended her life and love to her seven grandchildren. She applied the same tenderness and discipline to them as she had given to her children. They affectionately called her “Grandma Tippy,” because of her dog named "Tippy" When Sophie corrected them she used what they affectionately called the "Tippy Stick.” When her granddaughter Rebecca was part of a music group called “Testify,” Sophie and her daughter Sally traveled with them to offer support.
Sophie was also supportive of her church—Parkway Apostolic Church in Oak Creek—for over 30 years of active membership. She was baptized in the name of Jesus and filled with His Spirit. She volunteered in the nursery on Sunday mornings and helped in the Christian Academy by listening to the students read and serving hot lunches.
Sophie was all about family—spiritual and biological. She was surrounded by the family she loved when she entered her rest on Sunday, August 30, 2015—a day before her 89th birthday.
Sophie McDonough (nee Mozol) age 88 years, was preceded in death by her beloved husband James H. McDonough and siblings Walter (Jean) Mozol, Olga (Howard) Possing, and John Mozol. Loving mother of Sally (Barney) Theigs, Jim (Terri) McDonough, and Tom (Candi) McDonough. Dear grandmother of Andrea (Geoff) Poplawski, Michael (Joni Garrison) McDonough, Joshua Theigs, Rebecca (Todd) Wollin, Scott McDonough, Trisha (Zoran) Micic, and Tracie (Patrick Fester) McDonough. Proud great-grandmother of Michael, Andrew, Alaina, and Nathanael Schuster; Braydon, Avery, Britain, and Aven Theigs; Parker and Trenton Poplawski; Makayla McDonough; and Angela and Christina Garcia. Further survived by a sister-in-law, nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.
Visitation at Parkway Apostolic Church, 10940 S. Nicholson Rd. Wed. Sept. 2, 2015 from 5:00PM until the time of Funeral Services at 7:00 PM. Private family interment Thursday morning at Graceland Cemetery in Racine.
Special thanks to Sheila Hady, friend and care giver. Thank you for all your loving care – you are our angel.