There’s a birthday party for Sophie Raysor this afternoon in Seymour.
“I’ve worked hard all my life and have always been physically active,” she said. “I watch what I eat, have never developed a taste for alcohol — though I loved making wine from berries I picked.”
Sophie’s daughter, Sonia Carringer, remembers when Mom — then in her late 60s — “chopped down 75 scrubby trees” on their 4-acre property.
“I tried to chop down just one and couldn’t do it,” Sonia said. “She also got rid of many boulders around our country home by digging a huge hole right next to them and shoving them in. I’d come home from work to find that another boulder had just disappeared. She was 80 years old before I could persuade her not to climb on the roof to fix the flashing around the chimney.”
Sophie is active as ever.
“I push my own cart at the grocery store, climb up and down stairs to my bedroom numerous times a day, and help with fixing supper and setting the table,” she said.
Her parents were Russian immigrants.
“One of my proudest memories is helping (Dad) earn his American citizenship,” Sophie said. “He didn’t read or speak English very well, so as a child, I read the Constitution to him and he memorized large sections of it. He passed his citizenship exam without any difficulty at all. He loved this country, and I learned that from him, too.”
Among other skills Sophie’s kept sharp throughout her life: her artistic abilities. Her daughter said when Sophie was in high school, she won numerous awards at the local, state and national level, and was offered several full-tuition scholarships.
But “her Russian immigrant parents could not afford the room and board to send her to art school,” Sonia said, so her mother took courses at Immaculata College in Pennsylvania after marrying.
And her daughter benefited from her work.
“As a grade-school student, I always won ‘best costume’ honors because of the outfits she made for me,” Sonia said. “When I was a high school senior, she drew a 12-by-12 sketch for each of the 113 members of my graduating class, superimposing their yearbook faces onto bodies of various figures; I was represented as a sorceress.
“When she retired, she spent two years creating over 100 Christmas decorations out of felt, based on characters from literature and pop culture. All were impeccably detailed and carefully wrought,” Sonia added. “Her Robin Hood carried a miniature bow, and had a quiver of arrows and a feather in his cap. Her mermaid had a pearl necklace and sequined scales. Her Sherlock Holmes wore a deerslayer cap, had a curved pipe in his mouth and a magnifying glass in his hand.”