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Mount Sinai Obituaries and Services » Sophie Brill
January 23, 2015
Durango resident, Sophie Brill, three months shy of age 98, passed peacefully on January 23, 2015 from natural causes.
Sophie Brill was born to Max and Ida Dworkin on April 26, 1917 in Detroit, Michigan.
Sophie, always known for her fashion sense, class and beauty, said she learned her “taste of style” from her many years working in sales. She started her career working in her father’s, (Pops Dworkin) clothing stores in London and Columbus, Ohio. She then attended Ohio State University, but had to leave school to work during the Great Depression at Lazarus Department Store in Columbus. Sophie said, “I just grew up trying to make a living”.
She married her beloved Aaron at the historic Plum Street Temple in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1942. She worked for Civil Service (using her impressive typing and stenographic skills) at Fort Dix, Indiana, alongside her husband, a young Army attorney; she actually used her “shorthand” skills for years to come in her daily notes. They later moved to Cleveland, Ohio to raise a family and to start the family business, The Holiday Card and Gift Shop. Sophie eventually worked for over 25 years at the well-known Higbee’s Department Store in Cleveland, Ohio. Her various hats included Gift Shop manager, Buyer for the Connoisseur Antique Gallery and eventually Manager of the Williamsburg Shop selling her favorite Kittinger furniture. As a side benefit of her work duties, she enjoyed traveling to London, England, New York and Williamsburg, Virginia.
In 1980, she and her husband moved to Los Angeles for the warmer weather and to be close to family. She worked for a number of years at Kneedler Fauchere in the Pacific Design Center selling traditional 18th century reproductions including furniture, lighting, fabrics and accessories. She later said, “You never forget a design.” She briefly moved back to Ohio after her husband’s death, but realized her home was in Los Angeles where she had family and had made such wonderful friends. She continued to work into her 80’s in addition to volunteering for Cedar Sinai Hospital Gift Shop for eight years.
At age 86, Sophie left Los Angeles and the companionship of her daughter Joan, to spend her remaining years with her daughter, Debbie, in Durango. Colorado. She continued to live independently in her ever so stylish condo. It didn’t take her long to resume her volunteering endeavors greeting seniors every Wednesday for a number of years at the front desk of the Durango La Plata County Senior Center wearing her big smile (and her trademark big glasses). However, she remained a “city girl” and a “night owl” at heart, never forgetting her love of Los Angeles.
Sophie was always a very independent, energetic person with a positive outlook on life. In her younger years she enjoyed horseback riding, playing piano, socializing with her many friends and working. She performed a daily exercise regimen all of her adult life and loved taking extensive walks for as long as she was able. During her brisk walks (for many years with her beloved Miniature Schnauzers), she especially enjoyed strolling through parks and beautiful residential areas. A favorite hobby was doing the rounds at open houses. In Durango, she maintained her exercise program by attending exercise class twice a week at the Senior Center or at physical therapy.
She had a green thumb with houseplants with a special love of Hydrangeas in California and for her predictably blooming orchids in Durango. One of her favorite pastimes was visiting botanical gardens, especially Huntington Gardens in San Marino, California where she enjoyed afternoon tea with family and friends.
She has always loved music and dance (fondly remembering winning a Charleston competition as a young woman), showing off her dancing prowess with her husband on the ballroom dance floor at family events, dancing around the house with her daughters and entertaining them with her piano skills. She instilled a love of dance and music in her daughters, ever encouraging their involvement in dance, music and theatre. In Los Angeles, she attended many music, ballet and cultural events and volunteered for the Los Angeles Baroque Orchestra. She always had a special fondness for visiting museums. She was a member of the Durango Friends of the Arts and for many years regularly attended San Juan Symphony and Music in the Mountains concerts.
Sophie was proud of her Jewish heritage and was a member of The Temple in Cleveland, Ohio, Wilshire Boulevard Temple in Los Angeles and Congregation Har Shalom in Durango, Colorado.
Sophie was preceded in death by her husband of 48 years, Aaron Brill, on August 10, 1990; brother, Leon Dworkin; and sister, Barbara Skolnick.
She is survived by her daughters, Joan Mead of Los Angeles, CA and Debbie Meyers of Durango, CO; brother, Marvin Dworkin of Denver, CO; sister, Marlene Schwartz of Chicago, IL; nieces Rabbi Sherre Hirsch of Los Angeles, CA; Shari Zbar of Jupiter, FL; Stephanie Marks of Northbrook, IL; Marla Kemelhar of Philomont, VA; and Rachel Boughton of Maryland Heights, MO; nephews Jeffrey Zwelling of Santa Monica, CA; and Adam Schwartz of Mason, Ohio; many great nieces and great nephews; son-in law, Steven Meyers of Durango, CO; step-grandson, Daniel Meyers and 2 step-great granddaughters, Julia and Sophia Meyers of Portland, Oregon.
Donations can be made in Sophie’s memory to Helping Hands Gift Shop at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center 310-423-5241 or The Durango Senior Center 970-247-1965.
Services are Wednesday, January 28th, 2PM in Simi Valley.