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Stella (nee Kenar) Sobilo, Age 96, of East Chicago, passed away peacefully at home on May 9th. She is preceded in death by her husband of 49 years, Stanley Sobilo Sr. and her son Larry (Lorna) Sobilo as well as 11 sisters and brothers.
She is survived by her daughters Denise Sobilo, Adrianne (John) Ansay, Stacey (Robert) Zurek, sons Stanley Sobilo Jr., and Richard (Cathy) Sobilo, as well as 16 loving grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. She is also survived by numerous nieces and nephews.
Stella was a lifelong East Chicago resident and lifelong parishioner at St. Stanislaus Parish. A graduate of St. Stanislaus School and East Chicago Roosevelt High School, class of 1942. Right after high school, Stella aided the war effort by helping to manufacturer tank track plates at Blaw Knox in East Chicago. She also played sports in the Women’s Industrial Leagues in the area during WWII.
A pioneer of women’s sports, Stella coached volleyball, basketball and track at St. Stan’s for over 25 years. She was also instrumental in the East Chicago CYO that boasted several teams in both boys and girls and a high school division at one time. For her efforts, she was presented the Fr. Vincent Mooney Award from the Diocese of Gary.
Her efforts with youth sports extended to East Chicago recreational programs and merited her inclusion into the East Chicago Hall of Fame in 1993. Stella also coached at the High School level and was the first softball coach at Bishop Noll Institute, earning conference and sectional titles. She believed that volunteering and sending her children to a Catholic high school was important, and her dedication to BNI’s mission earned the Sobilo family, and Stella as the Matriarch, a place in the Bishop Noll Family Hall of Fame. Through raising six children, Stella also helped numerous brothers and sisters in her life, caring for them and their families through hardships and illnesses. She lost both of her parents before she was 14 which inspired her belief in a strong family support system.
Stella was also proud of her Polish-American heritage and served as a National Delegate and Women’s Division President of the Polish Roman Catholic Union of America. She also hosted and chaired numerous National PRCUA Sports Tournaments in Northwest Indiana, bringing participants from all over the country. Stella stayed active throughout her life playing softball, volleyball and bowling well into her 60’s, keeping up with her daughters and her younger friends.
Throughout all activities and accolades, Stella’s life has been most guided by her faith. She was a member of the St. Stan’s Rosary Sodality, a volunteer at Church and School, a member of St. Stan’s Happy Timers and devoted Catholic. She is a great admirer of Saint John Paul II, like him she has suffered and sacrificed much in her long life and left earth dignified and full of faith.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions in Stella's name may be made to The Bishop Noll Scholarship Fund or for Memorial Masses.
Due to restrictions at Holy Cross Cemetery, attendance should not exceed 10 people at one time for burial.
My very first Coach at St. Stanislaus, 5/6 Girls Basketball and Volleyball. Coach Sobilo had to fight for the girls to get gym time, they would only give us one night a week for practice. And sometimes we had to share court space with the boys. So then Coach found us a second night at the Roxana Gym just for us. These were the days when we could barely field a team of enough girls. I would hold my breath before every game and literally hug the fifth girl that showed up so we could play b-ball at St. Andrews, St. Florence, the Hammond Civic Center and there was one other gym near Cal City where the fans sat upstairs but I cant recall its name. That gym w the upstairs was where I got my first technical foul... Coach just shook her head but didnt say a word, she knew I learned my lesson. I lost track of Coach Sobilo over the years (in fact it had to be divine intervention that I stumbled across her obituary at all tonight) but I never forgot her and I am eternally grateful to have had a Polish American Catholic Woman Pioneering womens sports in my little community. I suppose she wasnt just my first coach but my first mentor and a great role model. As a result Ive always loved coaching Girls sports. How I wish Coach Sobilo could have seen my girls play basketball and volleyball and soccer too. I have 1 son and 4 daughters who have played of every CYO sport you can imagine at Our Lady of Mt Carmel in Carmel, Indiana and at Varsity Sports at Guerin Catholic High School. There is very special place in Heaven for this Coach. I am sending love and prayers for Coach and Family. SSS
Michele Marthakis Sawyer May 20 2020 12:00 AM
Thank for your kind words. I miss those early days of playing basketball and softball. You were a great talent and a super teammate. Im pretty sure Mom has already organized a ream in heaven!
Stacey Zurek May 19 2020 12:00 AM
My Dearest Denise, Larry in heaven, Adrianne, Stacey, Stanley and Richard, you are my cousins, but you've really been my sisters and brothers, because Stell was my second Mother. Being the only 'only child' among multiple families of many cousins, I was 'adopted' into your family by proximity of our living in the apartments that our grandfather built. Then Stell was of such incredible help when my mom was ill and died in my 20's, and she and your family have continued to help and be there in support of my family.
My heart is breaking in the loss of this wonderful, generous, loving, phenomenal, trailblazing lady, but also rejoicing in the knowledge that she will be at peace in heaven with her loving husband and son, along with all her brothers and sisters who preceded her. We know they're having lively discussions. as we used to enjoy as kids during the holidays at your house or at Uncle Chick's!
Words cannot express the deep gratitude I have for the kindness and support she and your entire family had extended to my family throughout the years. Stell's passing is truly the end of a wonderful era that leaves us with great memories of the richness of spirit, integrity, and generosity of the Kenar family and the 'nickname generation' as Mike Korba so correctly referred to them. It leaves us with the great stories to pass on to our children and grandchildren of wonderful past times. Hopefully we can pass-on to them the attributes of a role-model that Stell lived in her daily life. With Love for a Life Well Lived.
Karen Zurek Pantazis, M.D. and Family May 17 2020 12:00 AM
My condolences to the Sobilo Family!!!
Stella was AWESOME I always use to say "I want to keep playing sports as long as Stella!!" (I do to a knee injury didn't even come close.)
Rest in Peace Stella!!! You were an AWESOME team mate! God Bless You
Jill Verbich May 16 2020 12:00 AM
My condolences to the Sobilo family. Mrs Sobilo was a beautiful caring lady. If it wasnt for her there would be a lot of girls that would have never played sports. She was someone who coached and supervised so many of us. Mrs Sobilo made it possible not only for us to participate in all kinds of sports but also allowed us to travel. She made my days of playing basketball and softball something that I have cherished all my life. You made us feel like we were a part of your family. Mrs Sobilo because you gave so much to us I know the gates of heaven are waiting your arrival.
Mary Verbish May 16 2020 12:00 AM
Denise, Adrianne, Stacey, Stan & Rich - mine and Stacy's deep condolences at the loss of Aunt Sailor. The obituary reads of an incredibly full life in leadership and service to her family and community. The last of the nickname generation, it is not uncommon for me to speak of the impact on my life growing up around your mom, dad and our Uncles and Aunts. Man, those were great times. Not only were they icons of Polish Catholicism in an older time EC - they we just awesome, stand-up people. Man, those were great times. With her passing, she goes home to her Lord; but what remains for me and many cousins, are all those memories of her, your dad, Larry and how all the Kenar clan truly and fully included each of us, from all our different branches, in a large view of "family." I won't be able to make the services, but know I am there in my heart - my love and prayers. Mike
Mike & Stacy Korba May 13 2020 12:00 AM