Sophie Rose Kleiman, 84, of Escanaba died peacefully on May 18, 2005 after a short battle with cancer. She was born on July 8, 1920 on the family farm in Bark River, Michigan to Felix and Antoinette Barr and was one of 14 children.
Sophie was predeceased by her husband of 57 years, Ernie, and by her son, Ken of Bloomfield Hills, MI. She is survived by her five children: Charmaine Jensen (Earl) of Sun City, AZ and Green Bay, WI; John (Barbara) of Upper South Hampton, Bermuda and Sturbridge, MA; Brent (Brenda) of Sun City, AZ; Cindy Kleiman (John Decker) of Waterford, MI; and Randy (Lori) of Escanaba and daughter-in-law, Gerri Iacoboni of Bloomfield Hills, MI. Sophie is also survived by 8 grandchildren: Leslie (Brad) Cochran; Christopher Kleiman; Matthew (Karen) Kleiman; Kendra (Mike) Quinlan; Scott Crabbs; Kimberly (Eric) Lynch, Kristen Kleiman; and Lauren Kleiman; 7 step-grandchildren: Bill (Christine) Hayes; Mark (Dawn) Hayes;Tracy Jensen; Tim (Tina) Jensen; Deana Meddaugh; Angie (Tom) Keyes; Eric Gile; and 20 great grandchildren; by her sister, Jean Butryn of Escanaba; by her sister-in-law, Ellen (Ernie) Trosvig of Marquette; brothers-in-law Clarence “Hunce” (Dorothy) Kleiman; Harold “Babe” (Rita) Kleiman; Ben (Rosemary) Kleiman, and by many nieces and nephews.
As was the custom for young women of her day, Sophie Barr attended classes at a one-room schoolhouse in Bark River through 8th grade. Though her formal education ended at 13 years old, Sophie was a life-long learner, keenly interested in world events and social issues.
Sophie Barr and Ernie Kleiman courted during the era of big bands and spent every Friday and Saturday night on the dance floor. Their mutual passion for music and dance led them to marriage in 1938 and to raising their six children, proudly watching all of them graduate from college, marry, and raise families of their own.
For fifteen years, Sophie was a smiling fixture in the local grocery stores as the “demo lady” for Tony’s
Pizza, a job she truly loved and in which she took great pride.
From the birth of her first child in 1939, to her death in 2005, Sophie’s heart, soul, and complete focus were on her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. She welcomed one and all into her arms and her home whether related to her by blood or by marriage. Sophie was genuinely interested in the lives of each of her 35 family and extended family members, and she could tell you all about their jobs, new babies, new addresses, promotions, retirements, and travels. When friends would ask Sophie how she could keep track of all the “comings and goings” of so many loved ones, she would respond with an answer that was quite unique yet seemed perfectly normal to Sophie: “Well, they”re my family and we talk to each other.”
Sophie showered her loved ones with precious gifts from her hands, heart, and heritage. From her kitchen, Sophie would delight her family with cabbage rolls and chicken dumpling soup, or welcome them home from school with her freshly baked bismarks, or awaken them to her special breakfast of “blisters”, those thin, bubbly crepes she cooked lovingly, one at a time on her old, blackened griddle. Her children and grandchildren who went away to college could be assured of periodically receiving a “Sophie Care Package” loaded with homemade cookies, toothpaste, deodorant, toilet paper, and whatever else Sophie considered essential. Sophie welcomed each new baby into her family with a handmade quilt lovingly customized to baby’s gender and nursery colors. Everyone who was born or married into her family was given a personalized, handmade felt Christmas stocking stitched with hundreds of beads and sequins. For each household she made felt Christmas tree skirts and tablecloths intricately decorated with brightly beaded poinsettias. A special joy for Sophie in the last 12 years of her life was the company of her youngest granddaughter, Lauren. Together, Grandma and Lauren would bake brownies, have tea parties, manicure each other’s nails, and, as Sophie would fondly say, “Just be silly with each other.”
Sophie Kleiman spent a lifetime creating beautiful memories and heirlooms for everyone she loved. She will be deeply missed by those who enjoyed her beautiful smile, her unique wit and wisdom, and her loving ways.
Friends may call at Skradski Funeral Home of Escanaba on Thursday, May 26 from 2:00 pm until 6:00 pm. Funeral service celebrating the life of Sophie Kleiman will follow immediately with Rev. Michael Steber and Rev. Kristen Kleiman officiating. Entombment will be in Gardens of Rest Cemetery. The family respectfully requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the family for Holy Name School’s renovation of the Multipurpose Room, and to St. Vincent de Paul Society.