Former newspaper executive put employees first
Joe Soforic's job title at the Laurel Group weekly newspaper chain was secretary-treasurer/business manager, but he wasn't afraid to roll up his sleeves and get his hands dirty.
“It was nothing for him to stop and help ... if we had to go and tear something down, he was there,” said Richard Zahrobsky, former vice president and production manager at the Laurel Group, who worked with Mr. Soforic for more than 20 years.
Joseph Todd Soforic of East Huntingdon died Monday, May 18, 2015. He was struck by an automobile in the parking lot of an East Huntingdon shopping center. He was 52.
Mr. Soforic and his family had a long history with the newspaper company, which published six weekly newspapers in Southwestern Pennsylvania. His father, Joseph “Bud” Soforic, served as publisher of the Laurel Group from the late 1980s until it was purchased by Trib Total Media in 2007.
Born Dec. 6, 1962, he was a 1981 graduate of Geibel Catholic High School and received a bachelor of science degree in business from the University of Pittsburgh in 1985.
Mr. Soforic started in the production department at the Laurel Group, then went into the business office, where he was responsible for computerizing the office, said Zahrobsky, who remains employed on a part-time basis by Trib Total Media.
“Joe was the kind of guy who could fit anywhere,” his father said.
Mr. Soforic worked through the transition in ownership, then went into buying and selling real estate.
“Joe was a very conscientious individual who always thought about the employees first when making decisions related to the Laurel Group papers,” said Art McMullen, retired Tribune-Review vice president and general manager.
After retiring from the Tribune-Review, Mr. Soforic supported the senior community in Mt. Pleasant through a variety of efforts, his family said.
The family had a cottage at Deep Creek Lake, Md., and Mr. Soforic was a fixture there.
“He just loved Deep Creek Lake,” said his uncle, Forrest Kastner, 78, of Mt. Pleasant. “He loved to fish ... he was my fishing buddy.”
Mr. Soforic did a lot of the work that other members of the family weren't available to do, said his uncle, the former plant manager of the L.E. Smith Glass factory in Mt. Pleasant.
“He would open up, close up, get the boats out, get the docks in,” Kastner said. “The rest of us just reaped the benefits. We're really, really going to miss him.”
In addition to fishing, he was an avid bike rider, said his brother, John Soforic of Mt. Pleasant.
He enjoyed hunting, riding four-wheelers and motorcycles, his family said.
He is survived by his parents, Joseph and Audrey Shaffer Soforic, of Mt. Pleasant; a brother, John Shaffer Soforic of Mt. Pleasant; a niece, Kristen Soforic; nephew, Michael Soforic; and uncle, Forrest Kastner.
Friends will be received at the Galone-Caruso Funeral Home, 204 Eagle St., Mt. Pleasant, from 2-4 and 6-9 p.m. Thursday. A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Friday in St. Pius X Roman Catholic Church. Interment will be in Mt. Pleasant Cemetery.
Craig Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5646 or firstname.lastname@example.org.