May 13, 1919 ~ March 18, 2021
Born in: Cohoes, NY
Resided in: Ridge, NY
Cyganowski, Sophia K. of Ridge, NY on March 18, 2021. Beloved wife of the late Bishop Daniel F. Cyganowski. Loving mother of Daniel R. Cyganowski, U.S. Chief Bankruptcy Judge Melanie L. Cyganowski (Ret.) (Kenneth) and David M. (Kathryn) Cyganowski. Cherished grandmother of Claudia, Kelly, Megan, Daniel and David. Adored great grandmother of James. Celebration of the Liturgy of Christian Burial, Sts. Philip and James RC Church, St. James, NY Wednesday 10:30 AM. Arrangements entrusted to the Vigliante family at the Branch Funeral Home, 190 East Main Street, Smithtown, NY 11787. www.branchfh.com
Sophia’s Funeral Mass will be lived streamed on Wednesday March 24, 2021 @ 10:30 AM. To view the Livestreamed mass please visit Sts. Philip & James RC Church website by going to www.sspj.org. Click the link in blue Sign up to our facebook page to view live streaming masses.
Mass of Resurrection for
Sophia K. Cyganowski
At Sts. Philip & James RC Church
St. James, NY
March 24, 2021
By Melanie Cyganowski
We gather this morning, not in sadness, but to celebrate the life of a lovely and loving lady who was about to observe her 102nd birthday. Our mother, Sophia, loved the Lord and the beauty and intensity of her spirituality was interwoven into the fabric of her being.
Sophia was born in May 1919 in Cohoes, New York. She came from humble beginnings and, frankly, much of her life was not flush with material things. But her life was never marked by a sense of being poor but rather was filled with the richness of her love for all.
Her parents, my grandparents, were born in Poland and immigrated to the United States in the early 1900s. My grandfather was a coal miner in Edwardsville, Pennsylvania. My grandmother was a self-taught seamstress who designed and fitted clothing.
Sophia was the oldest of three living children. Each were two years apart, with Felicia in the middle and Edmund the youngest. My mother could not speak English when she entered kindergarten but was the first in her class by the end of that first year – and the first in her class at the end of her high school years as well. She was offered a full scholarship to Misericordia College in Pennsylvania, but her parents asked her to forgo this opportunity so that Ed might go to college.
These were hard times, however, and Ed first enlisted and served in World War II. He was shot by a sniper in the Battle of the Bulge and came upon and carried a wounded soldier to safety as he struggled back to camp. Ed was awarded the Purple Heart and the Bronze and Silver Stars. He later attended and graduated from Rensselaer Polytech in Albany with an engineering degree. He married Irene and had two sons, Mark and Brian, with Dr. Mark Kolozenski now a renowned periodontist.
During this time, my mother and her sister Felicia attended business school, completing a 2-year program in one. Both became highly skilled in shorthand, with my mother reaching 200 words per minute. As a young secretary in a small law firm, she prepared wills and real estate documents, and took deposition transcripts for court hearings. My mother’s early child and adult years were spent in Pennsylvania, walking the hills, which she credited for her longevity.
Sophia eventually met my father, who was then a young priest assigned to her parish in Edwardsville. The church was the Polish National Catholic Church, which has been in inter-communion with and is now merging with the Roman Catholic Church. Polish National Catholic priests were permitted to marry and have children.
My mother and father, Daniel, were married for almost 40 years before he sadly passed away in 1983 at the age of 62 from cancer. They had three children: my older brother, Daniel, followed by me and my younger brother, David. As young children of a family in the ministry, we moved frequently, usually to the less desired neighborhoods. Yet, none of us ever felt “poor.” Our home was always filled with love of family, love of God and love of people.
Our parents instilled in us the love and pursuit of education, and all three of us went on to graduate school.
Leading by example, our parents encouraged us to work hard, take nothing for granted, never act entitled, and to pursue our passions. These life lessons were invaluable and each of us have enjoyed professional success while having fun. Brother Dan is a retired senior executive from Bank of America, and younger brother David became an investment banker.
I followed in my father’s footsteps in public service and was appointed as a United States Bankruptcy Judge and then Chief Judge for the Eastern District of New York. At the end of my 14-year term, I returned to private practice and am now a Senior Member of the Otterbourg law firm in NYC where I practice bankruptcy law.
Our parents instilled in us the love of family. Dan was married to Carol for 46 years before she sadly passed away in 2016. Their daughter, Claudia, is married to Michael and together they live in Scotland, the proud parents of Sophia’s only great grandchild, James.
David and Katie have been married for 32 years, live in Bronxville and are the proud parents of Megan (now engaged to Jared Schlett) and David.
Ken and I have been married for 32 years, have two children (Kelly and Daniel) and lived in Stony Brook until recently. SSPJ has been our home parish for over 25 years. We cannot thank Father Tom and the Church staff sufficiently for all their kind words of comfort and allowing this Mass of Resurrection to be celebrated here for our beloved mother.
Sophia moved in with us in 1994, a month before our son Daniel was born. She has lived with us ever since. Dan introduced her to his friends as “Grandma Boo,” short for “Busia” or Grandmother in Polish. Dan received all his sacraments here at SSPJ and is now finishing his second year at Touro Law School.
When you live to be 101, you live through world wars, depressions and pandemics. During their life together, my father and mother enjoyed good times and struggled through the hard times. Their faith in God was never shaken. They instilled in their children and grandchildren the determination to face the difficulty, pray for strength and move forward and onward. Above all, they taught us to be selfless and kind to others.
After my father passed, my mother remained in Buffalo for 10 years but was always available at a moment’s notice to all of us. Whenever David and I called, she would, without hesitation, drop everything to help us pack and move, wherever that might be. When Dan’s wife, Carol, suffered from lupus and was hospitalized in a coma for weeks, Mom again picked up, without hesitation and moved in with him to help with Claudia for over a year. When Daniel was born, we needed to hold him upright for months to prevent reflux – and once again, Sophia was there at every moment, holding him with us and just being there.
Sophia was a helper, but she was also an avid gardener and baker of apple pies. Her mantra was that there should always be a flower in bloom, whatever the season. Her pies were exquisite, and requests would flow in from friends and doctors and family, whenever the apple season approached.
It takes a village to raise a child, but it also takes a village to care for an elder. Ken and I could not have taken such good care of Sophia at home without the expert assistance of our long-time friend and physician, Dr. Barbara Jean Wilk, and the constant 24/7 care provided by Patti Steiner. Patti has literally lived with us the past 2-1/2 years to make sure that all of Sophia’s daily needs were attended to, day or night. In recent times, nursing graduate Jessica Candelora-Lynch also assisted.
While giving birth to son Daniel, Sophia almost died because of an unforeseen complication. Many times, she shared that she “saw the light.” A warm glow. As she approached it, she heard the words: “I am sending you back. I am sending you back.”
My mother never feared death. She embraced life and the living. She knew and felt deeply in her heart that she would one day be returning to Heaven and would be with the Lord and join Papa, Cioci Fee, Uncle Ed and other loved ones who predeceased her.
As I sat on her bedside that last morning, I was talking with her and holding her hand. I was reminiscing about all the wonderful times we had shared over all the years, the good times — the births of her grandchildren, their baptisms and graduations. The meals we had shared together with friends and family. And then I looked into her blue eyes and realized she had passed into the Lord’s Hands. The peace she had always felt passed through me.
My mom’s life was a blessing, her memory a treasure. She is loved beyond words and will be missed beyond measure. Mom has joined our Dad in Heaven, and they are already smiling down on us.
We will shortly be celebrating the Resurrection of our Lord on Easter. May her soul rest in Peace in His loving embrace.
The family greatly appreciates donations made to these charities in Sophia K. Cyganowski 's name.