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Sonya (Sophie) Franchuk Phillips of Waitsfield, VT, and a former resident of West Barnstable, MA, and Greenfield, MA, died Wednesday, June 19, 2013, at Rowan Court Health Center in Barre, VT, where she had been a resident for little over two months. She spent her last day having lunch with her daughter and the other residents. She was dressed in her purple hat and movie star sunglasses along with her purple capris and matching top. She went quietly that evening after 96 years of a full life. She joins her beloved Philly, Philip E. Phillips, who died in November 2005. They had been married for 69 years.
She leaves behind her daughter, Nancy Phillips, and son-in-law, Stephen Doherty. Her dear sister, Alice Duschenchuk, is the senior member of the family now. There are several nieces, nephews, a sister-in-law and several close family friends. Besides her parents and husband, a brother, Alexander Franchuk, and a sister, Anita Shive, predeceased Sonya.
Sonya was born the eldest daughter of Russian immigrants who lived in Connecticut and on Long Island, New York. Sonya graduated two years early from high school, attended two years of college and then the dashing Phil Phillips swept her off her feet.
Sonya worked most of her life, which was unusual for women at that time. She started in the Five and Dime Store, moved on to being a bookkeeper at a laundry, a preschool cook and finally she and her husband opened their own business that they built. In 1954, which was the start of the interstate highway system in this country, they decided to build a motel, Candle Light Motor Inn, in Greenfield, MA. Over the years the motel grew to 50 units and had a popular coffee shop. They sold the motel in the early 1970s, retired to Cape Cod and opened an antique shop.
Sonya was a stylish, intelligent and tenacious woman. She liked being in charge and was to the end. She was bold in her opinions. Henry Ford II stayed at the motel frequently because his son attended a private school in the area. My mother read that Mr. Ford was getting a divorce from his first wife. When he came for a visit she informed him “that trading the old model in for a new one wasn’t necessarily a better deal.”
Sonya was a fierce bridge player and never liked to lose. She had an eye for fine clothes and loved to shop, especially for a bargain. She was an adventuresome eater and she would try anything exotic. She loved to eat out but also liked to cook gourmet food. She had a passion for antique collecting. She was an expert on postcards and Heisey Glass.
While she owned the motel, her employees were very dedicated to her. This is also true with her caretakers. Nan Hornbeck, her neighbor in Waitsfield, was Sonya’s homemaker and companion for six years. If it hadn’t been for Nan, Sonya would not have been able to stay in her home for as long as she did. Sonya is very grateful for that. Thank you to Dara Van Laanen, who took care of Sonya when her daughter was away and for spending time with her at Rowan Court. Also, thank you to Audrey Mays, Lisa Hodgson, Joyce Westcott and Robin Foster for providing support on weekends and evenings. Nurse Lynn Belizi and homecare specialist Sarah Utton from CVHHH provided additional support over the six years. Lisa Leblanc visited with Sonya on a regular basis and gave her the opportunity to talk about her life and frustrations. Finally, thank you to the nurses and especially the LNAs who cared for Sonya at Rowan Court Health Center. It is a fine place and allowed her family a bit of relief with the day-to-day care.
Graveside services were held from the South Fayston Cemetery on Bragg Hill in Fayston, VT, on Wednesday, June 26, at 2 p.m. There will be no calling hours. Assisting the family is the Perkins-Parker Funeral Home and Cremation Service in Waterbury, Vermont. To send online condolences visit www.perkinsparker.com and Facebook.