When Andrew “Andy” Sofranko was told he had colon cancer, his wife asked if this was going to be the battle you read about in obituaries, and he said, “no, it will be an intrusion, not a battle” And so it was for the next twelve years as he went about his life being the best husband, father, grandfather, brother, colleague and friend to so many people he met along the way.
But on Saturday, April 23 at 8:33 p.m. the intrusion overwhelmed the great heart and mind of this gentle and loving man and he passed away at Carle Hospital surrounded by his close-knit family who were the beneficiaries of his awesome presence in their life. Everyone knew a piece of themselves was going with him, but in return they were renewing their own heroic promise to live the rest of their lives as he lived his.
Andy was born 82 years ago in Mt. Pleasant, Pennsylvania. The second child of four, born to Andrew F. and Mary Sofranko. He attended Ramsey High School and received his Bachelor of Science degree from St. Vincent College in Latrobe, PA. He received his Masters in Sociology from West Virginia University. His advanced degree coincided with the election of John F. Kennedy and his challenge to all to “Ask what you can do for your country.”
Thus, began Andy’s two-year Peace Corps experience in the Eastern Region of Nigeria from January 1964 to December 1965. There he taught a full range of courses to Igbo boys at St. Vincent’s Secondary School in Abogugu. During that time, he met a fellow volunteer, Dolores who was in his same program. They were married following their tour on August 6, 1966 in Elmira, New York. They were married 56 years. Inspired by the adventures of his Peace Corps experience, Andy decided to enroll at Penn State University where he received his PhD in Rural Sociology in 1970. As his time in Nigeria found him involved not only with his students but also with teaching farming techniques to village farmers, he hoped to continue his passion of service to impoverished people by learning more about helping farmers better use the resources around them.
In 1970 he began his lifelong career as a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus where he taught Rural Social Change and other courses, served on committees, traveled extensively to many countries, did research where he wrote and published multiple articles and pamphlets to advance the discipline. Along the way he made many cherished friends. Additionally, he supervised both undergraduate and graduate students, who in later years visited him often and called regularly for long phone conversations that range from their mutual discipline to politics to simple family concerns.
Andy’s contributions in the community started even before he retired with reading to preschooler at Head Start. Upon his retirement in 2003 he began making soup for the hungry and homeless at the Daily Bread Soup Kitchen. Additionally, he wrote grants, organized and picked up restaurant food in the evening for the next day’s menus.
He was very active in the St. Mary’s community and volunteered at Habitat for Humanity and C.A.S.A. Andy’s hobby began in his teen when he, oil painted a large mural of a sunset the length of his bedroom wall, massive comic book collection were followed by furniture making including parquet tables, stained glass lamps and window pieces, original designed birdhouses. He loved creating and giving away his work to family and friends. It represented his soul motion in the world in which he lived intensely. As a father and grandfather he was actively involved in their lives and sport activities including coaching baseball many years.
Andy was preceded in death by his parents, his sister, Judy Sofranko and his grandson Sam Sofranko. He is survived by his wife, Dolores Sofranko, his son, Christiaan and Matthew Sofranko, his daughters, Minh Aimone and Linh Hopkins (Jim). His nine grandchildren are Jordin Boma (Austin), Erik Sofranko, Ariel Aimone, Hope Hopkins, Tristan Aimone, Payton Hopkins, Susan Sofranko, Amberlyn Aimone and Jocelyn Aimone, his sister, Dolly Ferrier, brother, Joseph Sofranko and sister-in-law, Pat Sofranko, his nieces and nephews: Sean, Erin, Brian, Peyton, Alix and Johnathan.
Visitation will be from 5-7 p.m. Thursday, April 28, 2022 at Owens Funeral Home, 101 N. Elm St. Champaign, IL. The funeral mass will begin at 10:00 a.m on Friday, April 29, 2022 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 612 E. Park Street. Champaign, IL. Burial will follow at St. Mary’s cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, please direct donations to The Daily Bread Soup Kitchen, 116 N. First Street, Champaign, IL 61820.
Daily Bread Soup Kitchen
116 North First Street, Champaign IL 61820