Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Ruth Soforenko

 My Aunt Ruth, who just recently passed away,  was a real hero to me. She was an artistic, interesting woman who was loved by family, friends and colleagues.

Ruth Soforenko's obituary in the Providence Journal

Above is a family photo from way back when.
Over the years many in the photo have passed away, but me, Jeremy, Jeffrey, Janet and Iris are still alive and kicking: 
top row- Arnold Soforenko, Aaron Cohen, Abraham Weiss, Arthur Weiss: middle row- Ruth Soforenko, Judith Cohen, Rose Weiss, Iris Weiss; bottom row- Suzanne Soforenko, Stephen Cohen, Jeremy Cohen, Jeffrey Weiss, Janet Weiss
from left to right: Nancy Soforenko, Rose Weiss, Deborah Cohen, Judith Cohen, Ruth Soforenko, Suzanne Soforenko
This is one of the saddest photos I know, because four of the people in the photo, my grandma Rose , my mother Judy, my Aunt Ruth and my cousin Suzie are no longer with us.

the 3 photos below are by Ben Sussman; the 2 family photos above were restored by Ben Sussman    thanks Ben!
Here is my aunt Ruth and my dad Aaron at Ruth's 80th birthday party. Two wonderful people who are now gone, but never forgotten.   

My Aunt Ruth was an interior decorator who was much admired for her work, which was mentioned and honored  in national, and in her local (Palo Alto, California) publications. Here is one of my favorite articles about her, where she talks about the home design challenges that dogs bring, and mentions her beloved dog, Cyrano:

      Canine design        

(Palo Alto Weekly, May 24, 1996)

How to make your house home to a dog without turning it into a dog house
by Diane Sussman

Even though Fashion Statement No. 1 dictates that black goes with everything, Ruth Soforenko did not get her standard black poodle, Cyrano, because he matched the decor. "I chose him because he was his own design decision," said the Palo Alto interior designer. "The design of a poodle is a beautiful thing."
Yet while Soferenko's taste runs to the discriminating and beautiful, Cyrano's runs toward plastic chops, rawhide bones, squirrel parts, soggy rubber balls and squeaky shoes.
As any dog owner will tell you, dogs and dirt go together like white wine and brie. For reasons unknown to scientists, black dogs leave hairs exclusively on white fabrics while white dogs deposit hairs exclusively on black fabric. And all dogs dribble kibble, track mud, slosh drinking water, leave trails of soggy treats, expel fleas and shake water onto your dry cleaning after a rainstorm.
"Your house will never be as clean with a dog as without one," confirms Soforenko. "But it can still look good."
When I was 14 years old, I was visiting at the Soforenko house when we all lived in  Rhode Island. I saw an old guitar lying around and asked my aunt Ruth if I could try playing it. I liked playing it so much that I soon got my own guitar and I have been playing guitar ever since. Here is a family jam in Rhode Island a week after my father Aaron passed away. You can see my Aunt Ruth in the center of this photo sitting below my brother Jeremy on bass. You can also see my nephew Jonathan on violin and me on guitar with my son Abe and my daugher-in law Jenny looking on. You can't see her in this photo, but my granddaughter Katiya (the daughter of my son Oryx and my daughter-in-law Kristin), who was 2 years old at the time, was present as well, and I have great memories of Aunt Ruth drawing sketches for Katiya, and the two smiling, laughing, and enjoying each others company. Life goes on!

Here is my aunt Ruth dancing with my nephew Miles at her 80th birthday party. We all can only hope to be as cool as Ruth was when we are in our eighties!

Jordan Weiss memorial

 Sadly, my nephew Jordan Weiss, died in a skateboard accident near his home in Studio City, California last month. I never got to meet him, but we were able to see him and his brothers every year in the beautiful photo cards his parents, Philip and Rabia, sent out every year. And now, through the video slide-shows in the memorial below, I can feel I know him better and I am moved by his beautiful life.