Businesswoman-beautician put family first

| Monday, Nov. 19, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

Beauty schools tried to woo beautician Sophie Dolence to work for them, but she would not budge from the tiny shop in her home.

“They asked her multitudes of times to teach at the Beauty Academy, but she didn't want to,” said son Stephen P. Dolence of Plum. “She was a devoted mother. She wanted to spend as much time with her husband and children as possible. Later, she devoted most of her time to her grandchildren.”

Sophie Dolence of Renton died Friday, Nov. 16, 2012, in UPMC St. Margaret. She was 89.

She was born Aug. 13, 1923, in Renton to Steve and Magdalena Hasson. Her father was a coal miner.

Her future husband, Steven Dolence, a boarder in her father's home, drove a 1940 Plymouth convertible. He agreed to let her brother drive the car on his own date if the brother could get her to go out with him. She was reluctant at first because he was 12 years her senior, but she relented to her brother's pleas. The couple eventually were married 60 years until his death in 2002.

“When my father worked the 4 to 12 shift, he would get home at 1 o'clock at night, and she'd have a full-course meal for him — steak, potatoes, whatever he wanted,” her son said.

Her son started a funeral home, and Mrs. Dolence fixed the hair of all the deceased for 40 years.

She also owned a Penn Hills bar called Steve's Tavern, named for her husband. Mrs. Dolence tended bar in the day.

“It was more or less a shot and a beer place,” said her son, who used to work there. “You get some guys who don't want to go home. They have too many, and pretty soon the wife has to come and get them home.”

The family sold the bar in 1970. It is now called Poor Harry's.

Mrs. Dolence enjoyed growing roses of every color as well as tomatoes, which she canned for her own spaghetti sauce.

Nothing gave her more pleasure than her grandchildren. She passed up her husband's trips to Europe and Florida to dote on them.

Grandson John C. Dolence of Penn Hills recalls his grandmother reading to her grandchildren, playing catch and other games with them and towing them around her 3-acre field in a riding lawn mower,

“She was more like a mother than a grandmother. She basically helped raise us to be the people we are today. We spent more time with her than we did our parents,” John Dolence said.

Besides her husband, Mrs. Dolence was preceded in death by a son, Thomas; sisters, Kathryn Pelegrinelli, Anna Kottar and Mary Kristoff; and brothers, Steve and John Hasson.

In addition to her son and grandson, survivors include a sister, Helen Prior of Creighton, and four other grandchildren.

Friends will be received from 7 to 9 p.m. Monday in Stephen P. Dolence Jr. Funeral Home Inc., 557 Unity Center Road, Plum. Monsignor William M. Ogrodowski will offer a Mass of Christian Burial at 10 a.m. Tuesday in St. Januarius Church. Burial will be in Plum Creek Cemetery.

Bill Zlatos is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.He can be reached at 412-320-7828 or

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