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On the evening of Saturday, January 20th, 2024, with the door cracked open, the angels came to carry our loving Mommy, Wife, Sister, Auntie and Friend, Barbara Ann (Matava) Sokolik, to her family awaiting her arrival in Heaven. She fought a year-long battle against aggressively-progressing acute myeloid leukemia (AML). She ultimately made the conscious choice to forgo further experimental treatment and live out the rest of her time on her own terms at home surrounded by her loving daughters, Melissa & Taryn, her husband, Paul and her closest family.
Barbara was born on September 21, 1955 to Evelyn Jean (Baltuskonis) Matava & Robert Anthony Matava, Sr. in Torrington, Connecticut. She was the granddaughter of Eugene & Anna (Killiany) Baltuskonis and John & Mary (Roman) Matava. Barbara was the eldest of 6 siblings - she was 16 years old when the youngest arrived. Karen (Christopher) Lukes and Scott (Marie) Matava, all held her hand as she passed from this earth. She was predeceased by her brother Robert Matava, Jr, whom she loved more than words could possibly describe. Other siblings include John (Jennifer) Matava & Michael (Jennifer) Matava. She loved her family more than anything and was always planning family gatherings for any occasion (or none whatsoever), filled with food, games and laughter; especially laughter. She welcomed anyone and everyone to her home. She delighted in watching every niece and nephew from the time they were born: Alexis (Stephen) Muscaro, Kayla Lukes, David Matava, Matthew Matava, Eric Matava, Aubrey Matava, Brianna Matava, Michael DiFronzo, Zackary Matava, Zoie Matava, Hunter Muscaro & Haylee Muscaro.
Barbara attended St. Francis School and Torrington High School, Class of 1973. She attended Northwest Connecticut Community College focusing on Art & Art History. She then transferred to Thompson School of Nursing in Brattleboro, Vermont, graduating in 1979, scoring almost a few points short of perfect on her nursing licensing exam. She started her career in nursing (one she was passionate about) at the former Winsted Hospital. She spent 45 years working all over Litchfield County including Torrington Extend-A-Care, The Adam’s House, Wolcott Hall, Haven Health (Torrington Health & Rehab), finally retiring after 20 years at VNA Northwest (now Visiting Nurse & Hospice of Litchfield County). She also taught the Certified Nurses Aide Training program for the State of Connecticut. In the 90’s, she returned to school at Northwest Connecticut Community College to obtain her degree in Therapeutic Recreation as well.
On the 29th of February of 1980 (leap-year), she married Paul James Sokolik at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Harwinton. Together they created their family, their life and their home in their shared hometown of Torrington where they resided together for almost 44 years (11 years to be technically-correct).
In her spare time, she enjoyed cooking, baking, crafts, sewing and the Casino. It’s likely that she has single-handedly kept JoAnn Fabrics in business all of these years. She was also up for a trip to TJ Maxx or Home Goods as she loved to decorate her home (and everyone else’s, for that matter). If you’re reading this, it’s also likely she made your prom gown, wedding dress, dance or Halloween costume or you received a handmade gift basket during your pregnancy, your illness or your graduation. No matter how she felt, we could almost always convince her to take a ride to Foxwoods, Mohegan or MGM. We always made sure she had her cell phone and she could hear it before we set her loose, trying to find her hours later. She loved animals immensely and stopped to talk with and pet every dog that passed by. We know she is giving extra cookies and Smartfood to her beagles, Molly & Madeline, who greeted her at Heaven’s Gates. She never missed a UConn Men’s Basketball game. We are thankful to Jim Calhoun, Kevin Ollie & Danny Hurley for allowing her “Couch-Coach” alongside them each and every game - in her career, she probably received more technicals than all three of them put together! A few days before her passing while in and out of sleep, she awoke to cheer that Donovan Clingan was back, make a few “woots” here and there and celebrate the win against Creighton. A few hours after her passing, UConn beat Villanova by one-point, and we’d like to think she helped a bit.
She attended every school event with her daughters from field trips to plays, basketball and softball games and piano recitals. She spent 30 years working backstage at Deborah’s Dance Workshop recitals. She watched Gold Rush, Barrett-Jackson and American Pickers with her husband and enjoyed trips to Brimfield Antiques shows, various swap meets and construction shows with him. She invested all of her time and energy into giving us the best childhood, adulthood and marriage she could have.
She believed in the Hospice philosophy and chose to have two of the nurses she trusted most care for her in her final days. We thank Kara & Malissa (her long-time co-workers at VNA Northwest) for putting on brave professional faces and loving her and us during this very difficult time. We would also like to extend our appreciation to Dr. Mark Dailey and the nurses and staff of Hartford Healthcare Cancer Center in Avon, CT as well as the nurses and staff of Hartford Hospital, including Dr. Michael Lawlor, for taking extraordinary care of our “Girl.”
Funeral services will be held Monday, January 29, 2024, at 10:00a.m. from Gleeson-Ryan Funeral Home, 258 Prospect St., Torrington, to St. Francis of Assisi Church, 160 Main St., Torrington, for a Mass of Christian Burial at 11:00a.m. Burial will follow in New St. Francis Cemetery, Torrington. Friends may call Sunday, January 28, 2024, from 5:00 to 7:00p.m. at Gleeson-Ryan Funeral Home.
In lieu of flowers, Barbara requested that donations be made to The Little Guild of St. Francis or any local animal organization (where the donations will go “directly to the animals.”)