Sophia Bacho: A Hero Without a Headline

Written By Tony Mussari
Copyright 2012
Mussari-Loftus Associates
The Face of America Project

Watching a peaceful death of a human being reminds us of a falling star; one of a million lights in a vast sky that flares up for a brief moment only to disappear into the endless night forever.  Elisabeth Kübler-Ross.

The Setting

On this beautiful November morning, my Face of America journey took me to a place of Justice, Hospitality, Mercy and Service.

At 9:45 a.m., I entered Mercy Center on the campus of Misericordia University. This is where I said good-bye to my mentor Sister Mary Hilary in 1990, my debate coach Sister Mary Felician in 2006, and this is where I would say good-bye to Sophia Bacho, the grandmother of one of my students, Christopher Boos, on this autumn morning.

A few minutes after the door to this place of care, comfort and peace closed behind me, I had an unexpected rendezvous with one of my high school classmates.  In 1959, I knew her as Mildred Lockman.  Today she is Sister Robert Marie R.S.M., a woman of dignity and class who carries on the tradition of the Sisters of Mercy. My classmate and friend is blessed with the voice of an angel. During the funeral service she used it to praise the God she worships and to celebrate the woman who is resting in the serenity of His eternal grace.  

The Service

During the service, Father John Kulavich described Sophia as a woman of music, a woman who had the gift of faith, and a woman who held her family close. Sophia was married for almost 64 years.  People who knew her and her husband Michael marveled at the beauty of their relationship.  They were always together, and when they were together they usually were holding hands. According to Father John, Sophia and Michael celebrated their marriage every day of their life together.
Sophia was not a celebrity.  Her name is not a household word, but her example eclipses the notoriety we shower on famous people. She lived a life of integrity, service and love.

Born, raised and educated in our little corner of the world, she lived for a time in New York City. She was a receptionist at the Bulova Watch Co. During World War II, she worked with radar systems as part of the war effort.

She and her husband returned to the place of her birth. They married, and for 63 years Sophia and Michael modeled the behavior of America at its best for their two children, Jeanne and James, and their spouses Bob and Mary Jo. Sophia was the proud grandmother of three grandchildren Christopher, Laura and Thomas.

The Message

Listening to Father John’s eulogy, I heard a litany of the characteristics of America at its best. Sophia was a woman of creativity, loyalty, service to church and community, musical talent and strength. She was a welcoming woman who was quick to give encouragement. She gave comfort to others in time of need. She and her family made positive memories drawn from the little things in life.

After the burial service, family and friends gathered for lunch and conversation. It was a marvelous moment of community. Many of us were perfect strangers, but at that table we were family. We shared stories of success and failure. We shared stories of those moments when we were challenged to do the right thing even when the consequence was not pleasant. We shared our concerns about the seismic shift in our culture and the brave new world for those who have crossed the digital divide. Our conversation was pleasant, uplifting and without rancor.  We talked about the things we learned from our parents at the kitchen table, and the values of industry, perseverance and thrift they taught us.

As I sat there listening to the stories, I thought to myself, this is Sophia’s legacy. This is her light and the light of millions of parents just like her who wanted their children to live virtuous lives of hospitality, justice, mercy and service.

Maybe that’s why the words of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross ring so true.

For those of us who were privileged to share this moment with Michael Bacho, Jeanne Boos and James Bacho, this was a celebration of a wonderful mother and friend who is now one of the millions of lights that will live forever in the world beyond the vast sky.

Please provide feedback to: