Sophia Ann MacLeod died July 19 at the age of 92. Her amazing life began when she was born to Nicolaos and Wesley Garefalos on Aug. 17, 1923, in Fort Worth, Texas. Her happy childhood was cut short by the untimely death of both parents. Although her parents were wealthy, Sofia and two of the other five children spent several years in the Whitaker Orphanage in Pryor, Oklahoma. She finished High School at St Mary’s academy in Austin, Texas, and attended Blinn College in Texas. Her first husband was Harold K Hynes, who was serving in the U.S. Navy in Corpus Christi, Texas. While living in a suburb of Houston in the mid-40s, most men were either in the armed services, or working downtown; which meant that only women occupied the neighborhoods during the day. Many wondered what they would do in case of an emergency or fire. Because of this, Sofia and some of the other women formed the world’s first all-female fire department, which was featured in Life Magazine. Her second husband, Neil Robert (Bart) Bartimus, an Air Force officer, was shot down in a bomber over Germany, and later went on to fly fighter planes in Korea. After the Korean War, he trained pilots on the use of Lear Flight Instruments as the family traveled to air bases throughout the U.S., while Sofia home-schooled the three daughters (often in the car). In 1955, the family settled in Roswell, where Sofia earned her pilot’s license. They bought a 640-acre ranch in the Allegros Mountains northwest of Socorro and built an airstrip for their frequent flights from Roswell to the ranch. During this time, she became friends with Peter Hurd and Sydney Redfield and spent many hours painting the landscapes of the Pecos and Hondo Valley. She met her third husband, Donald Austin (Mac) MacLeod, retired Navy and Merchant Marine, in Houston, Texas, and soon moved to New Mexico and built a home near Jemez Springs. They eventually settled in Edgewood, where she lived and volunteered for the last 35 years. She was proud of winning first prize for her pinto bean brownies, which Gov. Bruce King awarded at the 1st National Pinto Bean Fiesta. She celebrated her 85th birthday by shooting the slides at Whitewater Waterpark and parasailing with her daughters in the Gulf. We are all fortunate to have shared a part of her amazing life. She will be greatly missed. She was preceded in death by her daughter, Jean R. Bartimus, of Semmes, Ala., and by her husband, Donald. Sofia is survived by her daughters, Diane Stearley, of Edgewood, Candice G. Colby, of Waleska, Ga.; five grandchildren, Glenn Arnett, of Edgewood, Michelle Arnett, of Boise, Id., Dr. Chris Colby of Radford, Va., Dr. Craig Colby, Greensboro, Ga., and Tracy Colby of Santa Fe, NM; seven great-grandchildren, and one great-great-grandchild. Her celebration of life will be held at the National Veterans Cemetery at a later date.
Leota started working for The Independent in 2006, working her way up through the ranks. An employee buyout in 2010 led to her ownership of the newspaper. Leota has served on the board of the N.M. Press Association, and is currently its First Vice President. She is passionate about health and wellness, especially mental health, and loves making art. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.