Sophia Katherine (Yelovich) Holland

1979 – 2021

If someone were to ask to summarize Sophia’s sparking personality in just a few words, those who knew her and loved her would say “She was filled with life: joyful, musical and compassionate. She doted on her children and had that rare luminous quality that shone through her person like the morning sun on a bright Spring Day.”

Sophia is the second oldest of five daughters. As a child she was so very vivacious and happy! We still see her in our mind’s eye laughing and skipping! Early in her life she was truly blessed to have as her first piano teacher a remarkable man who had survived the Holocaust and escaped Auschwitz to live again in the United States. He was a gifted teacher, and he always taught Sophia that more important than getting the notes right was the appreciation of the music in her heart and in her soul. Sophia learned that lesson immediately, and as she grew in the expression of her remarkable talent at the keyboard, one could feel the beauty of each composer’s creation as it flowed through her fingers. Neighbors in our little country village would sit out and listen to her on warm summer evenings, shaking their heads in disbelief that they were not listening to a recording but rather to the performance of a remarkable talent in real time in their own neighborhood.

University, marriage and children all came about in due time in Sophia’s life. To say that she was a great mother to her daughter (Helena) and her two sons (Joseph and Jonathan) is to understate the truth. She doted on her children and worked with them throughout their lives, even up to the very end, pulling herself out of her sick bed a week before she entered Hospice to sew a costume for one of them. Her children came first in every consideration. Her chemo treatments were scheduled around their schedules; her trips to the pharmacy when she was free from running them to their various appointments and gatherings.

In 2015 Sophia separated from her husband and accepted a position at the Creative Adventures Preschool. The children there loved her as much as she loved them! Now, in her mother’s absence, Sophia’s beloved daughter Helena has taken her place, working with the same care and compassion for the children her mother had loved as well. 

When Sophia was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer, she fought her disease bravely. Every treatment was endured with courage and met with a smile. The bond between her sisters (Irene, Helena, Alexandra and Xenia) grew stronger; her two sisters in Pittsburgh (Xenia and Irene) were frequent visitors at her house, and her other two sisters (Helena and Alexandra) visited regularly and kept in touch day to day. When Sophia was in Hospice in Pittsburgh, every one of her children, sisters and nieces and nephews were with her up to the time when she fell asleep in the Lord.

The daughter of an Eastern Orthodox priest, Sophia returned to the roots of her faith in her illness and shared the Holy Mysteries with her mother and father under the guidance of the local bishop. She fell asleep in the Lord on Thanksgiving Day, and in the terrible grief we all felt at her passing, we nevertheless rejoiced to have shared her wonderful life with the knowledge that we will be together with her again in the Kingdom of Heaven.

The closing words of the homily at her Orthodox funeral express what her mother, father, sisters, family and friends want to say at her passing:

And so, you see, we grieve. For the temporary loss of one, unique, ineffable in her internal beauty, the beauty of God’s own image, and for all that she was to us. But we are believers, her mother and I, and many, perhaps most of you here gathered. And we come together first and foremost to remember something else – that the Lord Jesus Christ has indeed risen, and that He continues to give life to all whom He has created. He will hold the soul of our beloved Sophia in His hand until He brings her back to a new and renewed life in His Kingdom. 

Sophia knew this. She came back to full communion with Christ in His Church some years ago. His icon was hung above her beloved piano along with that of St. Romanus and St. Sophia and her children. She knew Christ, and in that knowledge she fell asleep. 

If you knew Sophia like her mother and I knew her, you know that she loves you. And if you hurt her in any way, understand that her forgiveness has already been given to you.  Let all of us here therefore give great praise and honor to the One Who made her, Who redeemed her and Who will raise her from her sleep to the eternal life that awaits her in His Kingdom. 

Sophia, we love you! And, thank you, Dear Lord Jesus Christ, our Master!  Thank you for her life!

To God alone, Father Son and Holy Spirit, be the glory! Amen.

(The V. Rev. Elias Yelovich, Sophia’s Dad)