Meriden-Sophie (Sophia R.) Wilkey who lived an accomplished and loved-filled life, died on Tues., Jan. 10, 2006. She was born in Meriden, CT on Aug. 12, 1917 to loving parents, the late Onufry and Helen (Tratinka) Rakesky, both immigrants from White Russia (Belarus). Sophie graduated from Meriden High School in 1935, from the University of Connecticut with a Bachelor's of Science degree in mathematics in 1939, and from the University of Michigan in 1944, with a Master of Science in mathematics. During her life, Sophie held a variety of rewarding and satisfying professional positions including her experiences as a statistician for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in Battle Creek, MI and as a math teacher in the Meriden School System. She was an accomplished teacher who believed in the potential and abilities of every individual and dedicated herself to this passion. During her teaching career, spanning 31 years, Sophie encouraged others to ask questions, to challenge wrongdoing and to always do their very best. Sophie was a champion for education and was committed to working hard; her thirst for learning inspired her teaching. She was a creative and resourceful woman, who had an amazing ability to remember people and details, even to the end. She enjoyed music, dancing, reading, languages, traveling, volunteering and spending time with her family. Sophie loved her family very much. Sophie was predeceased by her loving husband of 58 years, Elmer L. Wilkey, her sister and best friend, Katherine Rivera, M.D., her stepson, Elmer Dean Wilkey, and her son-in-law, Joseph Volpe, Jr. She is survived by her children, HelenAnn Volpe of Portland, OR, Katherine (and William) Grussi of West Haven, Michael (and Babby) Wilkey of Hopkinton, NH and Robert (and Phyllis) Wilkey of Meriden. Sophie also leaves her sister, Nadja (Negel) Marry of Newton, MA and two stepchildren, Dewey (and Shirley) Wilkey of Astor, FL and Felix (and Kay) Wilkey of Evansville, TN. Sophie is also survived by her nine grandchildren - Christopher, Katrina, & Alex Volpe, Andrew & Benjamin Grussi, and Ian, Caty, Alie, & Colin Wilkey - who were a very important part of her life. With special mention, Sophie leaves Michael & Pauline Marry and Laurie & Michael Pellegrino and their families, and her nephews, Christopher and Victor Rivera. Sophie had countless others who cared about her, making a thoughtful difference in her life. Family and friends may call this Friday, January 13th, from 4 - 8 p.m. at the BEECHER & BENNETT FLATOW FUNERAL HOME, 48 Cook Ave., Meriden, CT. Burial at Walnut Grove will be private. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Foundation Fighting Blindness, Inc., P. O. Box 17279, Baltimore, MD 21203-7279 (

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  1. I was saddened to hear of your mother’s passing. My memories of her kindness and caring go back a long time. Indeed you were all blessed with a wonderful mother who put her family first, and instilled the best of her in all of you.

  2. I was sorry to hear of Sophie’s death, as I have so many fond memories of her as an inspirational teacher as well as a surrogate mother. She raised a fine family! I offer my most sincere condolences to Helen Ann, Katherine, Michael, and Robert. They were blessed by having such a wonderful mother – and we are all grateful that they shared her with the rest of us!

  3. Kathy, you right.. wow, what a person (wife, friend, mom) she must have been. I’m so sorry for your loss and my prayers go out to you and your family.

  4. Mrs Wilkey was one of my favorite teachers. She truly cared about her students. In the past few years she would come into our Agway store to purchase things for her garden. She not only remembered me, but also inquired about my brothers that she had as students. I will miss her.

  5. My sincere condolences on the loss of your mother/grandmother. She was a genuinely good person and one of the best teachers I ever had. In fact, she was a model of what a teacher should be – pushing her students to excellence (or at least as close as we could get) while always remaining positive, supportive and enthusiastic. It’s been 40 years since I was in her classroom, yet quite recently my sister and I were sharing delight in citing her as the inspiration for our love of high school math. We both remembered our experiences with her fondly as we discussed with my high school age son the contrary experience he has had. .Mrs. Wilkey. was a true treasure. I feel blessed that she was part of my life and I am certain there are legions of other students whose lives she touched and feel likewise. I also feel sure that the Lord will reward her goodness as we cherish her memory. We’ll all do well to imitate her loving attitude towards others.

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