Sonia’s death leaves big gap in roster of great people
Sonia Thorpe died a couple of weeks ago. She had cancer and finally gave up and died.
I first met Sonia at the Sheriff’s Office back in 1983. She and Romaine Martinez came to work in the jail as matrons as part of our reserve officer program.
As a reserve officer, Sonia could wear a uniform and a badge and carry a gun – all for no pay. Lots of prestige but no money. That is a nice thing when you think about it. Doing something you love just because you love it and not because you are being paid to do it.
Sonia had lived in Breckenridge for several years. She was married to a man who was involved in oil exploration. He lived in Denver and she lived in Breckenridge.
He gave her a very expensive home near the ski area and a 700 series BMW to drive. She would show up at her no-pay job driving a $60,000 car. Nice job if you can get it.
Sonia was a class act, just like her car.
She had grown up in North Carolina but had migrated through the United States. She had four children. I only knew two of them well.
Jack was in Summit High School when I met her. Her youngest daughter, Gina, was in the Marine Corps at that time.
Jack eventually went into the Navy and then was discharged. He moved to North Carolina and was with his mom when she died.
Gina got out of the Marine Corps, taught herself Russian, enlisted in the Army and was picked to go to the Defense Language School in Monterey, Calif.
She wrote a long piece in Russian on the whiteboard in the communications center. Blew people away. She is brilliant. So is Jack.
Eventually, we hired both Sonia and Romaine for half-time positions in the old jail. Romaine’s husband, Gil Martinez, was the caretaker at the Dillon Dam for the Denver Water Board and was eventually transferred to Denver. When that happened, Romaine left the Sheriff’s Office, and it left us with one-half time women’s position open. We decided to make it one full-time slot.
Sonia asked for the job, but she had a problem. In getting married and traveling around the country and having four children, she had never graduated from high school. One had to have finished high school to work for us, so she was eliminated.
But the sheriff and I were a couple of softies and agreed to hire her if she got her GED in three months. Sonia finished it in one month, and she worked for us for years. She finally left a few years ago to work for the Gilpin County sheriff and then moved to North Carolina when she found out she had cancer.
Sonia was probably one of the most steady people I have ever known. She was a rock. She was everyone’s friend. She is missed.
When Sonia had finally found her niche in life in law enforcement, she had divorced her absent husband and begun to stand on her own two feet. She got her own car and her own place to live. She started hanging out with younger women and living the life she had missed for all those years.
For the past 15 years, I have had Sonia’s picture on my wall. She and several other ladies from the Sheriff’s Office had an old-time photo taken for the sheriff and me, and it has been a cherished memento.
I sometimes wonder why some people are memorable and others are not. I think it has a lot to do with strength of character. It has to do with a person being a true friend rather than just an acquaintance.
Sonia was a true friend and I will miss her a lot.
Gary Lindstrom writes in this space every Thursday.
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