Sophie Irene (Sherman) Garelick died June 15 at Steere House nursing facility in Providence, R.I., due to COVID-19, at the age of 104. She was the beloved wife of the late Harry Garelick, and mother of the late Max J. Garelick and of Frank M. Garelick and Jon S. Garelick.
Sophie was born May 12, 1916, in Woonsocket, R.I., to the late Max and Sara (Fineberg) Sherman, the youngest of five children who also included Mary, Sam, Bess, and Barney, all of whom pre-deceased her. She was a 1934 graduate of Woonsocket High School. She married Harry Garelick, then a partner in Garelick Brothers Farms, in February 1936. She leaves Frank of Cranston, R.I., and his partner, Lisa Jones, and Jon and his wife, Clea Simon, three grandchildren, and two great-grand children.
A child of the Depression, Sophie often described the hardships her family underwent. Her father died when she was 11. “We had no money,” she said, and she recalled on one occasion spending an hour looking for a dime she had dropped in the snow on the way home from school. She revered her mother. Although all five children eventually worked to support the family, Sophie said of those years, “My mother did everything.” Sophie would recall the big black wood-fired stove in the family’s kitchen on Grove Street in Woonsocket. “My mother wouldn’t let me near it,” she said. It was too dangerous, and Sara worried that her youngest child would be injured. “She thought I’d catch fire.” Sophie’s summation of the family dynamic was, “My brother held the light while my mother chopped the wood.”
Though she had worked at several jobs briefly during her life, she always described her occupation as “homemaker,” while her husband worked at Stadium Trading, Inc., with her two brothers. An industrious artisan, through the years she created many beautiful braided rugs (“We needed rugs,” she explained) that eventually graced the homes of her children and other family members. Her work also included embroidery and needlepoint, producing bedspreads, tablecloths, and many pillows. She also refinished furniture, laboriously stripping and staining reclaimed objects in the family basement — desks, chairs, a kitchen table — and painted all manner of decorative lamp bases, boxes, and other objects. Like her sister Bess, she also produced oil paintings.
In later years, she and her husband — to whom she was married for 55 years, until his death, in 1991 — lived in North Providence, R.I. She moved into Steere House just prior to her hundredth birthday. In her last years, she was visited not only by her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, but also by nieces and nephews, and sometimes non-relatives who recalled her generous support through the years. Her family will remember her always. She did everything.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Steere House Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, 100 Borden Street, Providence, RI 02903
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