Member Profile : Sophia Crawford
Sophia was born, raised and educated in England, living in Eton College in what she later realized was an unusual setting: her family lived in the famous boarding school of 1300 boys where her father was a master.
After finishing her education Sophia left for London, moved in with a roommate, and began to look for a job. We all know that Sophia is an editor par excellence but what we didn’t know was how she stumbled into her first editorial job. She labels it “serendipity.” She interviewed and was offered a job in banking. Before accepting the offer, she told her roommate about it, who promptly retorted “I don’t want a roomie working for a bank.” Instead, with a tip from her roommate, Sophia took a job with a publishing house starting as an editorial assistant. It is no surprise to learn that six years later she was the managing editor. Although she was always a voracious reader, it must have been quite the challenge to be required to read ten to twelve books a week.
Sophia’s life took a different turn in 1977 when she met her American husband Fred Crawford, then working for Citibank in London. They married in 1979 and Sophia moved to Athens, Greece, with him for his next job; there she volunteered, organizing a fund-raising performance of Messiah.
A year later they were back in England to begin their family. Their two children were born in London and have dual citizenship. But, interestingly, their son, who now lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, says, “I am American but my mother is English,” while their daughter, now living in Vancouver, says, “I am English but my father is American.”
In 1985, together with their three-year-old son and one-year-old daughter, Sophia and Fred moved to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia where they were to live for the next five years. As a westerner in a strict Islamic country Sophia had to adjust to the culture. She dressed modestly, had a driver̶since women aren't allowed to drive there̶and socialized with other Western women who were always very supportive of each other. She adjusted because she knew that Fred loved his job. But his job always involved lots of travel… sometimes as much as twenty days each month. In fact, they had never spent more than 35 consecutive days under the same roof until his heart surgery in 2000: during his convalescence, there was finally a day 36 and more.
Fred was in Saudi Arabia on 9/11; everything changed there too and he retired a year later. While in Jeddah, Sophia volunteered at her children's British school helping the librarian who was computerizing the collection. She also ran the British community library for a couple of years and served on a community committee for the British embassy.
After their stay in Saudi Arabia, they moved back to England where they lived for the next 15 years. Sophia continued her energetic volunteer efforts, largely centered on a crisis helpline. Finally, in what we hope is their last move, the Crawfords came to Norwich in 2005.
One of the things that Sophia loves about the United States is that notwithstanding the different accents that Americans across the country may have, the differences are related to geography rather than social class. In England “the moment you open your mouth to talk, you are identified by your accent.”
Sophia soon became active in the Women’s Club. Her neighbor Ann Silberfarb drove down the driveway to Sophia’s house and invited her to a Women’s Club event. Sophia heard that Alison May was looking for help with the town directory; through Alison, she met Sue Pitiger, the then President of the NWC. Sue, looking for someone to chair Floribunda, convinced Sophia and her own predecessor, Mindy Penny, to serve as cochairs, even though Sophia knew nothing about the event.
Today, Sophia is one of the most amazing cogs who keep the Women’s Club running smoothly. She is our membership chair extraordinaire, she coordinates volunteers for the Nearly New Sale, maintains our web page, receives and responds to all e-mails sent to email@example.com, prepares our membership directory, was the original host and coordinator of our Monday morning coffee and conversations, works on the auction catalog for the Spring Gala, and does myriad other things that need doing.
In addition to her Women’s Club responsibilities, Sophia has served on the Boards of the Norwich Historical Society, and Aging in Place. She volunteers weekly at the Norwich Public Library, and with the Palliative Care team at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. When asked how she does it all, she replied, “Norwich was a very welcoming place, and I am repaying the welcome.”