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Sofoulis, James A. & Elsie N.

by Mary (Sofoulis) Lewis

James A. Sofoulis was born in Nenedes, Greece, in 1887. He immigrated to the United States approximately 1912, and worked his way to Alaska. He worked as cook and baker in various cities in the interior. Elsie N. Davis was born in Lima, Iowa, in 1892. She worked in Fayette, Iowa, as a cashier in the Bank of Fayette all of her adult life there.

Jim and Elsie met in 1917, at the Rochester Hospital in Rochester, Minnesota, where each had gone for medical reasons. Meeting there and the enchantment of distance all figured in making interesting the romance and marriage of Jim and Elsie. Following their meeting and ultimate separation, their romance was carried on mainly by correspondence between Fayette and Alaska. A proposal of marriage was made and accepted. Jim left Cordova by boat enroute Seattle, and Elsie, accompanied by her father, came to Seattle; there Jim and Elsie were married in 1928. Immediately following their marriage, the couple left for their new home in Alaska.

In 1929, they were living in Latouche, Alaska, where their daughter Mary Jean was born. Jim was working as a cook and baker for a mining company. A year later they moved to Juneau where Jim started a bakery and restaurant on lower Franklin Street. In 1931, a son, James (Jimmie, Jr.) was born in St. Ann’s Hospital.

In 1934, Jim purchased a building on South Franklin Street, now occupied by the parking garage/library. He started a bakery, and named it the Star Bakery. (Their living quarters were in the same building.) Elsie had her “coffee counter” where among her other duties, she served coffee “ands” to early morning business people
and miners on their way to work. The two, with the periodic help of a hired baker, ran the business themselves. As the children grew, they also worked in the bakery.

During WWII, the bakery was a gathering place for a number of the soldiers stationed in Juneau at the Subport and Duck Creek. Many dinners were shared with the military during this time.

In 1944-45, Jim’s health declined to such an extent he was forced to sell the bakery business. When his health improved enough, he started a small (Mom & Poptype) business in another storefront of his building. A few years later his health again declined and this time he sold the entire building and purchased a house at the top of Main Street. For a few years, he worked as cook on a number of F&WS vessels. Jim died May 30, 1952, in Denver, Colorado, where he had gone for medical treatment. He is buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Juneau.

Elsie enjoyed her home, family and friends. She was a member of Women of the Moose, Eastern Star, Rebekahs, American Legion Auxiliary, and Pioneers. She was musician for a couple of the organizations, also. Elsie died November 15, 1970, and is buried beside her husband in Evergreen Cemetery.

On July 4, 1953, Mary Jean married Lee Lewis, and they had two sons, Robert and David. Both boys were born in St. Ann’s Hospital. David has two children, Jesie, who is attending Fresno State in California (on a swimming scholarship), and Joshua, who is in the Navy. Lee died on November 8, 1996, in Juneau. He is interred at Alaska Memorial Park.

In May, 1955, Jim, Jr. married Henrietta Pannebaker and they had three children: Geri, Michael, and Linda. Jim died July 15, 1973. He is also buried in Evergreen Cemetery.

James and Elsie Sofoulis.

Sofoulis Star Bakery, 1937.

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