Gloria Donen Sosin died peacefully at Ferncliff Nursing Home in Rhinebeck, N.Y., on June 21, 2021, at the age of 99.
She grew up in Rye, N.Y., the daughter of Isaac and Eda Donen, who settled there in the 1920s, after emigrating to New York from Ukraine. Her father ran a stationery store in Rye before opening Donen’s Music Shop, which was a fixture for decades.
Gloria’s class was the first to move into the new high school on Parsons Street. She graduated from Rye High School, where she was voted “Most Industrious”. She lived a long life true to that early recognition.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in English at the University of Michigan, where she wrote for The Michigan Daily, sang in choral groups, and belonged to Alpha Epsilon Phi. A World War II veteran, she served as a sergeant in the Women’s Army Corps.
While studying for her master’s degree in Russian Language and Literature at Columbia University, she met the love of her life, Gene Sosin, in a Dostoevsky class. Their romance led to marriage in June 1950. Soon after, Gloria and Gene moved to Munich, Germany, to interview displaced Russian refugees as part of the Harvard Project.
Upon their return to Westchester in 1951, their son Donald was born; daughter Deborah arrived in 1954. The couple raised their children in Rye and became active members of Community Synagogue, which Gloria’s parents had helped to found. Gloria earned a second master’s degree from Hunter College, then taught high school Russian in Greenwich and Scarsdale. She was also fluent in Yiddish, German, and French. She kept active in Jewish and civic organizations, including Hadassah and the League of Women Voters.
From 1966 to 1970, the Sosins once again lived in Munich, where Gene was an executive at Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe. The family traveled throughout Europe and Israel before returning to Westchester, settling in White Plains.
The Sosins were chamber music devotees who attended concerts at SUNY Purchase and other Westchester venues and enjoyed cultural events in and around New York. For many years, they helped Soviet emigres adapt to life in the United States and were on the board of NYANA (New York Association for New Americans).
Gloria was a voracious reader of contemporary fiction and nonfiction on loan from the White Plains Public Library. Among her other hobbies were playing bridge, knitting, needlepoint, and baking (her mother’s apple pie recipe was a favorite family dish). She played the piano and studied voice and especially loved German Lieder and Yiddish and Russian songs.
She wrote many essays, articles, and poems and self-published two memoirs, “A New Life Is Coming Soon”, a chronicle of her father’s journey from Ukraine to America, and “Red Letter Year”, about her and Gene’s time in Munich in 1950-51. Her work appeared in The Michigan Daily, The Forward, The Rye Record, and other Westchester newspapers.
After Gene’s passing at age 93 in 2015, Gloria remained in her home in White Plains, blessed with the loving companionship of home caregivers Joan Isree and, later, Amalia Saroian, as well as Agavni Mkoyan and Lulu Saroian.
She is survived by her daughter Deborah of Boston, her son Donald and his wife Joanna Seaton of Lakeville, Conn., and their children, Nicholas and Mollie Sosin; her niece, Nancy Hirschhorn of Washington, D.C.; and her nephew, Robert Hirschhorn, of New York City. Her dear sister, Joyce Donen Hirschhorn, of Killingworth, Conn., passed away in 2017.
A graveside service will be held June 24 at 1 p.m. at Sharon Gardens, 273 Lakeview Avenue, Valhalla.
Contributions in Gloria Sosin’s memory may be made to Community Synagogue, 200 Forest Avenue, Rye, NY 10580.
Details for a Zoom Shiva gathering to celebrate Gloria’s long and extraordinary life will be announced shortly.