Blas Luis Sofre
June 14, 1931 – June 3, 2020
Blas Luis Sofre entered into this world on June 14, 1931, in San Martin, a suburb of Buenos Aires, Argentina. He came from humble, hard-working roots and was the youngest of four sons. After completing middle school, he was trained to work alongside his brothers as he learned the family trade of being a cobbler, or shoe maker. Much of Blas’s free time was spent outside, doing atheletic pursuits—especially boxing, soccer, and basketball. He enjoyed playing cards and dancing at the local youth club, also, and that is where he met his future wife, Norma Del Canto. During his courtship he was called to do his mandatory service within the Argentine army, where he served as a cook. When he returned home, he reconnected with Norma and they were married on February 12, 1955, in both a civil and church ceremony.
To save money for their eventual independence, the newlyweds shared a roof with Blas’s parents for the beginning years of their marriage. Little Norma Susana Sofre joined the family in August of 1956. Within a short time, though, the trio were on their own. Blas was a saver and repeatedly sought out small, fixer-up properties to invest in, sell, and turn a profit. Despite these successes, there also were some hindrances.
After delivering baby Norma (aka “Susi”), mother Norma had some medical setbacks before conceiving Luis Cesar Sofre in 1960. Argentine society by this time was troubled by runaway inflation, making life miserable for its countrymen, so many Argentine people decided to relocate. Because of Norma’s risky pregnancy status, the family delayed immigrating to the America, even though they had applied for and had been put in the que as legal American residents back in 1960. Eventually, as little “Cesar” grew and thrived until the age of three, the Sofre clan of four completed the process by transitioning to America in 1964, settling in Monterey Park, a suburb of Los Angeles.
Being the diligent worker, Blas quickly found employment handling sheet metal, which, in turn, led to multiple other jobs in the machinist industry. His coworkers sometimes dubbed him with the nickname of “Happy” since he was upbeat and content to be working, rather than complaining about the job circumstances. At one jobsite Blas also worked overtime as a janitor. Once, while he was cleaning the factory, Blas heard a skirmish going on. Apparently a factory worker had been let go that day and had returned with a loaded shotgun to kill two of the owners. With his broomstick in hand, Blas pinned the arms of the assailant against the front of Blas’s own chest, immobilizing the gunman— this while the attacker was also still clenching the shotgun. Blas shouted for assistance until help arrived. Many people were “happy” that Blas was there that day.
The Sofres continued to become more at ease with American culture, but tried to seek out fellow Argentines and Italians to foster the memories of their homeland. One more child, Robert Joseph Sofre, was added to the family in 1970. The Sofres gained a financial footing and were able to go on vacations in their small RV, going on numerous trips that included the California coastline, Yosemite, Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe, Zion National Park, the Grand Canyon, and Baja California. In time, the vacations also included return visits to Argentina and relocating to Arizona to be nearer to some of the family.
Blas was a proud Hispanic man—proud of his Argentine heritage, proud of his family, and, at the same time, modest about his income. He was very wise in his small property purchases and quickly reinvested his financial gains into a new opportunity at each turn. Regardless of this, both Blas and Norma lived inconspicuous, fairly frugal lives. As with many Hispanic males, he also had a short temper at times, and often became insistent about having his own way. He was passionate about having his afternoon siesta followed by the Argentine tea matte, typically served in the late afternoon. He did not like to have ice in his drinks, preferring instead to have water served at room temperature, or “natural”. Many other poor habits became more like stiff challenges as the Alzheimer’s Disease took hold in his life. It was a bitter blow when he lost his driver’s license and when Blas and Norma were forced to move in with their son, Lou, and his family because they could no longer be independent. Consequently, he began to sleep more and engage with people less. It broke his heart when Norma died in February. He spent many hours sorting through old pictures on the table, reliving memories of better times together in the past. His posture started to shift as he became hunchbacked with depression. He begrudgingly put away his cane and took the walker for assistance. Eventually, his balance was impaired, and he could no longer safely walk. The transfer into a wheelchair was yet another blow to his ego, as his health deteriorated.
Following Norma’s death, each night, as he went to sleep, Blas would place Norma’s picture near his head so he could see it as he went to sleep and woke up each day. There is no doubt that being with her once again in heaven was foremost in his mind as he slipped away. May you now be at peace, together again, in eternal bliss. Amen.