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Helen W. "Penny" Socolofsky

Helen W. Helen W. (Penny) Socolofsky, age 96, passed away at Good Shepherd Hospice House in Manhattan on August 16, 2020. Numerous children and grandchildren were at her side during her almost three weeks in hospice.

Penny was born on March 14, 1924 in Republic County, KS to Alfred L. Wright and the former Esther Charles. She married Homer E. Socolofsky on November 23, 1946. He predeceased her in 2005. She is survived by their six children, Robert (Jean) of Denver, CO, Jennifer Sims (Bill), of Lawrence, Thomas (Annamarie) of Mission, TX, Edward of Roeland Park, Theodore (Claudia) of Loveland, CO, Elizabeth Socolofsky-Howe of Warrensburg, MO, and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Penny lived in Manhattan since 1937, and graduated from Manhattan High School in 1941. She attended Kansas State University and Christ Hospital School of Nursing in Topeka, graduating in 1946, and worked for many years as a registered nurse at Memorial Hospital and St. Mary's Hospital (now merged to form Via Christi Hospital) in Manhattan. In 1981, she retired from her nursing career as director of nurses at St. Mary's. Her family donated memorabilia of Penny's nursing career to the Riley County Historical Museum in Manhattan, where they can be seen in an exhibit honoring health care workers. She was a member of the IW Chapter of PEO in Manhattan, and was a member of First United Methodist Church in Manhattan since 1937.

Despite a shy and self-effacing personality, Penny had a profound strength and an intense interest in the world. Beginning in 1944, she kept a journal. The first entry is a poem by Walt Whitman named Memories: “How sweet the silent backward tracings! The wanderings as in dreams--the meditation of old times resumed--their loves, joys, persons, voyages.”

Memories of Penny will comfort her family – the sweaters she knitted for her grandchildren, the chocolate chip cookies and cinnamon rolls she made for her family, her gentle attention to Homer, to her children and to her grandchildren, the beautiful bearded iris she planted everywhere she lived, her joy when describing with close observation the trips she and Homer took, and the books she avidly read throughout her life. Memories of her life will continue to be an inspiration to her children and grandchildren, and they are so much better for having been blessed by her presence.

The family will hold a private memorial service at a later date. Penny was cremated, and her ashes will be interred at Sunset Cemetery in Manhattan, next to Homer.

Online condolences may be left for the family through the funeral home website at

Contributions may be made to the KSU Foundation for the Helen W. Socolofsky Scholarship Fund for pre-nursing students, which the family plans to establish. Contributions may be left in care of the Yorgensen-Meloan-Londeen Funeral Home, 1616 Poyntz Avenue, Manhattan, KS 66502.

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