CATHERINE SOFOS / 1922-2004
Real estate trailblazer
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on East Oahu
Services will be held 10 a.m. Oct. 22 at the Sts. Constantine & Helen Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Pacific for real estate developer Catherine Sofos, who built the first ridge homes in East Oahu.
Sofos died of complications from pneumonia Sept. 29 at her Honolulu home. She was 82.
Sofos and her late husband, Thomas, who started Tasco Realty in 1948, built 257 of the 750 original Waialae Kahala homes and the first 100 homes on Hale Koa Ridge.
Sofos was born in St. Louis on Sept. 11, 1922, to Greek parents. Her father was a naturalized American citizen and fought for the United States in World War I, where he was hit with mustard gas. He later died.
Sofos returned to Greece after her father's death but moved back to the United States after the Nazis invaded the country. She had dual citizenship.
Sofos moved to Reno, Nev., where she worked as a dealer in the casinos.
"I never could beat her at poker," said daughter Stephany Sofos, a local real estate analyst.
But Catherine Sofos, trained as an accountant, had higher aspirations, so she moved to Hawaii in 1943 to take a job with the Navy as an auditor.
"She said when she saw the Waianae Coast, she knew she was home," Stephany Sofos said, adding that her mother also apparently felt the same way about her husband of 53 years.
"She met my dad at a cocktail party on Feb. 6, got engaged on Feb. 14 and married him March 1," she said. "I guess she knew what she wanted."
The couple, who had a long career in Hawaii real estate, started the popular ridge home development in East Oahu. They hired then-unknown architect Val Ossipoff to design the homes and built them on speculation.
They also built the Sofos building on Kalakaua Avenue, which is still a Waikiki landmark, renting out the bottom as retail space and living on the top. In 1954 they sold the building and moved to Kahala.
The couple is also known for starting Oahu's only Greek church, the Sts. Constantine & Helen Greek Orthodox Cathedral, along with four other families. The church, established in the 1960s, was named in part for Thomas' mother, Helen.
Catherine Sofos served as the first president of the women's auxiliary at the church and participated in numerous charities. In her later years she worked as a tax accountant.
Thomas Sofos died in 1998.
Two of the couple's surviving children, Steven and Stephany, have continued their real estate work. Sofos also is survived by sons Tom and Nicholas and a grandchild.