UPDATED: Sonya Lefkovits passes away in California; funeral services set

By BRAD GASKINS / Staff Writer

COLUMBIANA – “Miss Sonya,” a highly respected businesswoman throughout South Shelby County, has died.

Sonya Lefkovits passed away Tuesday night, Feb. 8, at an assisted living facility in Solvang, Calif. She was 87.

Sonya Lefkovits

The family will receive friends Feb. 13 from 3-4:30 p.m. at Bolton Funeral Home in Columbiana. A graveside service will be held Feb. 14 at 2 p.m. at Beth-El Cemetery, located at 1724 26th Ave. N. in Hueytown.

Lefkovits was the first ambassador of the South Shelby Chamber of Commerce and founding member of the Columbiana Merchants and Professionals Association. She was a charter member of the Vignette Club, which in 2009 honored her with the 50-year General Federation of Women’s Club gold pin for devoted service.

Lefkovits’ family ran the Columbiana Leader on Main Street from 1896 until it closed in 1980 with the retirement of Sonya and husband Norman Lefkovits. Norman died in 1996.

Known throughout the community as “Miss Sonya” to most and “Sunny” to some, Lefkovits was involved in numerous other organizations and activities in the community.

“Miss Sonya loved the community and the chamber, and the community and the chamber loved her back,” South Shelby Chamber Executive Director Stacy Walkup said Wednesday morning. “She was dedicated and loyal to the chamber.”

Walkup described Lefkovits as a “mentor” who represented the chamber in many different capacities, including greeting people and working the sign-in table at various functions.

“It was important to her being the first ambassador and the first ambassador of the year,” Walkup said.

Lefkovits’ health had been declining for some time.

In Aug. 2010, just days after being honored at a chamber luncheon, Lefkovits flew by medical jet to California to live with her daughter.

Lefkovits’ health problems were complicated when she recently broke a hip.

In the last several months, as her health declined, Lefkovits never lost her business savvy.

“Even though she was in California, she still had her thoughts and ideas,” said Linda Cook of Busy Hand’s. “We called her the ‘Queen of Columbiana.’ She was just a very special person. She cared about Columbiana.”

Lefkovits was born May 6, 1923 in Memphis, Tenn. Raised in Tyler, Texas, she graduated from Louisiana State University before moving to Nashville to serve as field secretary for the Girl Scouts Council.

She moved to Birmingham in 1947 to work at the Jewish Welfare Board as its first activities director. Through that organization, she met her future husband, Norman Lefkovits. The couple married that same year.

Sonya Lefkovits is survived by two children: a daughter, Marsha Phyllis Lefkovits and her husband General Richard Quick; a son, Norman Leo Lefkovits Jr. and wife Martha.

In 2006, Marsha and Richard established the Norman and Sonya Lefkovits Shelby County 4-H Citizen Award. In lieu of flowers, the family asks for any contributions to be made to this award. Make checks payable to the Alabama 4-H Club Foundation and send to Tasha Worden at 225 Duncan Hall, Auburn University, AL 36849. Specify “Lefkovits Citizen Award” for any contribution.

In addition to her work with 4-H, Lefkovits also was a tireless worker for the Shelby County Historical Society. Any loving contribution can be sent to the historical society in care of Bobby Joe Seales, P.O. Box 457, Columbiana, AL 35051.