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Jan Sopoci

Posted By Hitzeman Funeral Home On August 14, 2014 @ 10:43 am In Obituary | 3 Comments

Jan Sopoci, age 89, of Brookfield. Beloved husband of the late Anna L. Sopoci, nee Feriancik; loving father of Jan Andrew Sopoci, Elena S. (Doug Belknap) Sopoci and Anne Marie (Paul) Brinley; dear grandfather of Shannon (Rob) Corn, Tom (Hannah) Sopoci, Matthew Puhr, Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap, Bianca (Ben Gillock) Sopoci-Belknap, Rory (Zuzka) Sopoci-Belknap, Kristen (Duncan) Cooper, Elizabeth Brinley, Janelle (Greg) Deddo, Emily Brinley, the late Samantha Puhr; dear great-grandfather of Nicole Corn, Jacob Corn, Rowan Sopoci Gillock and Zoey Bee; brother of Anna Benova in Slovakia; uncle of many nieces and nephews. Immediate family services at Hitzeman Funeral Home Ltd., 9445 West 31st Street, Brookfield, IL, on Saturday, August 16, 2014, followed by graveside service and internment at Woodlawn Cemetery at 10 am.

Jan was born March 15, 1925 to Jan Sopoci and Johanna, nee Dolnik, in Slovenske Pravno, Slovakia. He was an avid soccer player in his youth and also participated in the local Sokol program. During World War II, he was a member of the Slovak resistance, as they worked to frustrate the progress of the Nazis in his homeland. Following the fall of communism in central Europe, he received a medal on behalf of the Slovak people recognizing his contribution as a partisan.

Following the war, Jan married the late Anna Feriancik in February, 1948. They met through Anna’s older brother Elias, while she was back in Czechoslovakia visiting family. She herself had immigrated to the United States prior to World War II. Jan and Anna enjoyed 64 years of marriage before Anna’s passing in 2012. Jan and Anna made their home and raised their three children in the Chicago area for many years, first in the city itself, and then moving to the suburb of Brookfield. Jan worked as a butcher for Crawford Sausage and Miracle Ham, before learning a new trade as a tool and die maker. He worked as a skilled machinist and became a foreman at Spot Welding Tools. In 1971, Jan’s life work took another turn as he was elected as Supreme Secretary of Sokol USA and moved with his family to East Orange, NJ, to lead this Slovak fraternal organization. Jan’s integrity and fiscal responsibility helped lead the organization through a difficult time – an accomplishment in which he took great pride. Upon his retirement, he and Anna returned to their Brookfield home in 1995.

Throughout his life, Jan was active in the Slovak community, both in the Chicago area and then in New Jersey. He was a long-time officer of Sokol USA Lodge 39, financial secretary of Assembly 89 of the United Lutheran Society, and on the board of the Slovak American Charitable Association and the Stefanik Court Hall Association. For several years he served as ticket chairman of the New Jersey Slovak Heritage Festival committee, which would annually showcase Slovak culture in the Garden States Arts Center. As a Supreme Lodge officer (first as Supreme Secretary, and then upon his retirement as Finance Committee Chairman), Jan worked tirelessly to promote the Sokol organization as well as Slovak culture.

Over the years he held other leadership roles as well, both in the New Jersey Fraternal Congress and in the city of East Orange. Jan could always be counted on to be forthright, honest and hard-working. In addition to working hard, Jan enjoyed recreation. He was a member of the Hawthorne Pioneers Bowling League in Lyons, IL, until this past November, and for many years enjoyed golfing. Well into his eighties he was winning bowling tournaments and he was proud to let everyone know he had once bowled a perfect game, and had the patch to prove it! Jan also enjoyed long, brisk walks and gardening, especially tending his roses. He was a member of Sts. Peter and Paul Lutheran Church in Riverside, and enjoyed attending Slovak service as health permitted.

A Memorial Service will be held Saturday, November 22, 2014 at 4 pm at Sts. Peter and Paul Lutheran Church, Riverside, IL to celebrate the life of Jan Sopoci, who passed into eternal life on August 13, 2014. Donations may be made to Sts. Peter and Paul Lutheran Church, 250 Woodside Road, Riverside, IL 60546 or the Sokol USA Milan Getting Scholarship Fund, 276 Prospect Street, P.O. Box 189, East Orange, NJ 07019-0189.

Arrangements by Hitzeman Funeral Home, Ltd., 9445 W. 31st Street, Brookfield, IL 60513. Information 708-485-2000 or www.HitzemanFuneral.com

Condolences for the family of “Jan Sopoci”

Condolence from Rev. Heino Blaauw, Chaplain – Saratoga Grove on August 14th, 2014 11:48 am

Thank you for this interesting obituary. I was only able to meet Jan at the very end of his days in this age – but I was glad for his participation in a few of my worship services at Saratoga Grove.

May God’s peace and hope in Christ be yours through these days of mourning, remembering, thanksgiving.

My prayers are with you.

In Christ, Rev. Heino Blaauw,

Condolence from Bea Walko on August 14th, 2014 8:41 pm

Dear Sopoci family My sincerest condolences to you on the passing of your Dad. He and I were elected to the SL at the same time and worked well together to save our beloved Sokol. He was a proud, loyal, honest Sokol member. May your beautiful memories sustain you during this time. He is at rest in the arms of his Lord
NaZdar to you Br. John.We will miss you. Peace to you his family My prayers are with you,
In Sokol Love,
Bea Walko

Condolence from Officers & Members of Sokol USA on August 14th, 2014 9:21 pm

It is with heavy hearts that we mourn the passing of Brother Jan Sopoci, Honorary Supreme Secretary of Sokol USA. Bro. Sopoci’s impact on the life of Sokol USA was profound due to his prudent fiscal strategy, forward thinking and strong leadership. Jan’s love of Sokol began during his youth in Slovakia where he played soccer. No member wore the Sokol uniform more proudly than Brother Sopoci. When elected to the position of Financial Secretary on the Supreme Lodge, he moved his family from Brookfield, IL to East Orange, New Jersey to lead Sokol USA.

There are no words to express our thanks to you, Brother Jan Sopoci and to your family for your love and dedication to Sokol USA. You came to headquarters to find a financial disaster, you returned to Brookfield leaving a strong and financially solvent organization. You had the respect of all, and certainly a life well loved.

On behalf of the officers of the Supreme Lodge and all the members of Sokol USA we extend our sincerest condolences to you Annemarie, Elena, Jan and all the members of the Sopoci family. We join you in your sorrow for his passing and in your joy for the life he lived.

We send you to your rest with our sincere Sokol NaZdar! It is hard to imagine Sokol without you. Rest in peace, Brother Jan.

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