In Loving Memory
Sonia Strauss passed away peacefully on March 9, 2023, at the
age of 86 after a mercifully swift contretemps with glioblastoma.
She was with her daughters at home in the New York apartment
that she loved.
Sonia was born in 1936 in Cairo, Egypt, to parents of Ukrainian
and Belorussian descent, Maurice Machbitz (1908-1979) and
Berthe Liscovitch Restatcher (1910-2007), respectively. Her
early childhood, surrounded by a large, close-knit extended
family, was equal parts idyllic and, given the time and the place,
challenging. In 1950, her family left Egypt. After a year in Paris,
they emigrated to the United States.
In Cairo, Sonia attended the English Mission College and the
Lycée Francais, she graduated from Bayside High School in
1953, earned her BA in French language and literature from
Queens College in 1957, and went on to obtain a joint Masters
in French and Education from Yale. She missed her graduation
ceremony on June 8, 1958, to attend her wedding in New York
to Helmut Strauss (1931-2018), her loving and beloved husband
through the thicks and thins of the next sixty years.
Sonia taught French for a total of 45 years, at Roslyn High
School and then at the Rockland Country Day School, forging
lifelong friendships with both faculty and students. As devoted
to her pupils as to her first language, she organized excursions to
France and ongoing exchanges with French partner schools,
eager to share her love for the literature and culture of the
French-speaking world with her infectious joie de vivre.
In addition to sumptuous meals set out up and down the long
holiday tables, some of Sonia’s earliest, happiest memories were
spent at the movies. She never stopped loving the movies, and
knew who starred in what with whom and the details of their
private lives as well as she did the names and stories of all the
aunts and uncles and cousins who lined those holiday dinner
tables. But then, she loved people, and they knew it. She
connected quickly and deeply with those she met and many
called her their best friend.
Sonia loved to share experiences through travel, exposing
her children to everything the world had to offer and continuing
to explore locales old and new long into retirement.
She loved art and she loved the theatre. Her
deep and abiding love of music and its associations with people
and places and parts of her life remained and sustained her even
after the memories themselves began at the end to elude her.
During her final illness, Sonia was attended by the wonderful
Thelma Allen, Carolette Fennel and Gloria Parker, a team of
treasures she alternately referred to as her angels and her sweet
friends. Her family is forever grateful to them for the kindness
and care they showed all of us these last weeks and months. It is
a solace to us all that she was cared for by such loving hearts
Sonia is survived by her adored baby brother Marco and his
wife, her “sweet baby sister” Suzi, by her darling daughters
Liane and Danielle, by her precious grandchildren, Isaac,
Harlan, Cal, Sydney and Exie, and her cherished sons-in-law,
Jedd and Jim.
As she repeated often over the past few years, she was blessed
and grateful, as are those who were lucky enough to have known
The family ask that, in lieu of flowers, donations in Sonia’s
honor please be made to Calvary Hospice.
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