1924 That is the year Michael Sovich was born. The world has changed since 1924. OMG has the world changed! The technological innovation in 1924 was the Model T and mass production. The television had not been invented.
Today the computer is continuously changing our lives and our society. Like the computer everything seems to be distilled to a one or a zero. It works or it is tossed away, no matter whether it is a car part, an appliance, or a relationship.
But some things never change. Birth Death And the survivors who must struggle to make sense out of it. Today we are mourning a loss, but we are also celebrating a life. Today I am here to talk about my father and I cannot talk to you about his life without focusing on the bond he had with his wife, Virginia. D. H. Lawrence once said, “I am in love - and, my God, it is the greatest thing that can happen to a man. I tell you, find a woman you can fall in love with. Do it. Let yourself fall in love. If you have not done so already, you are wasting your life.”
My father was in love, and he let me and everyone else know it. The first time I brought Janet to meet my parents in Bethel Park, he took her by the hand and gave her a personal tour of his photo collection......of Mom, stopping to note how beautiful she was in each picture. After 61 years of marriage he was still as smitten as a school boy.
He was born and grew up in Donora, Pennsylvania. The youngest son of Susan and John Sovich, he had two brothers, John, and George and a sister, Ann. A child of the depression, he took a job in the US Steel zinc works plant and worked the night shift during his senior year. His teacher would stop by his desk and ask, “Mike, did you work last night?” When Dad nodded yes, he said, “Okay you can put your head down and take nap.”
Like most in the Greatest Generation he heard the call to duty and country and enlisted in the Navy. Thinking he could be on shore patrol in New York City, he volunteered for special training in New York. Instead, he became a gunner’s mate third class manning large artillery on a convoy ship where he saw the Pacific, Europe, Africa, and the Philippines.
After the war, he returned to Donora and to US Steel. He envisioned a long relationship with US Steel. In his spare time he played x’s and o’s with the ticket girl at the Princess movie theater. And the ticket girl was a princess. Virginia Amoroso was a finalist in the Mon Valley Jubilee Princess beauty pageant. Mike soon realized that if he was going to properly court her he would have to trade in his horse, Crackers, for some wheels. He purchased a red 1948 Buick. It was his baby. And it worked! Mike and Virginia tied the knot on April 26, 1950. The ceremony was almost marred with tragedy, when Virginia’s sister, Mary, the maid of honor, released the brake in the Buick and the car crashed into a pole after the wedding rehearsal. Mary was, fortunately, able to walk down the aisle with crutches at the wedding the next day.
Mike and Virginia moved in with his parents and in 1955, they had a baby girl (Nancy). Two years later a boy (Randy) and a year later another girl (Terry). The family needed a house of its own. With the help of his parents, they purchased land on Second Street Extension and Mike built a house. The dream was short lived as US Steel closed the Donora operation and Mike was unemployed, he took on odd jobs, doing custodial work and Virginia took a job with Pittsburgh National Bank. They sold the house and rented a house on 9th Street. Two long years of unemployment ended when he got a job at US Steel in Duquesne in the metallurgical department. They lived on 9th street until the mid 70’s when they bought a house in Upper St Claire Township. Mike did have a long relationship with US Steel, he worked for the company for more than 40 years before retiring.
After retiring he and Virginia spent the next quarter of a century together, 24/7. They were inseparable. No men’s club or golf outings for Mike; no girl’s nights out for Virginia. To most people the idea of that type of togetherness might be suffocating. To them it was heaven.
Brangelina or BenJen couldn’t hold a candle to their romance. To their friends they became MVee.
Throughout their life together and right up to when Mike was diagnosed with cancer, late in 2010, he took loving care of Virginia. He always showed his love in doing for her and for his family. When I think of Mike and the life he lived, he and Virginia modeled a life of love. Mike intuitively understood Lawrence. He found his woman, they fell in love. Their romance is a true love story.
And as someone who knows love stories (Richard Bach) once wrote, “True love stories never have endings.”
June 6, 1924-September 7, 2011