“Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world.” ~ Nelson Mandela

Sophia always believed in helping others. It was only natural for Matt to choose to honor her by establishing a scholarship in her name at Ashland High School.

She was born on September 28, 1943 in Steubenville, Ohio to George and Evelyn Callas. Both her maternal and paternal grandparents were Greek immigrants. Her mother’s parents were from the Island of Crete in Southern Greece. Her father’s parents were from Sparta in Northern Greece.

Although she was very proud of her Greek heritage she grew up an American, because her parents wanted to be American and did not want Greek to be spoken at home. Her father and several of his brothers served in WWII.

She was the middle child of five and very involved in schoolwork, but always finding time for social activities and sports. Although there was not a lot of opportunity for female athletics in the fifties and early sixties she was a cheerleader and a “natural” on the basketball floor. She excelled in that sport at the high school intramural level.

She was involved in many clubs, prom committees and most of all was a very well liked student, both by teachers and classmates. She was arguably one of the most popular girls in the entire high school at Steubenville Big Red.

After graduation from high school in 1961 she went off on her own to New York City to find a job. She lived briefly with relatives in Manhattan on 181st Street and eventually lived on her own when she landed a job at The Great American Insurance Company in Newark, New Jersey. She returned to Steubenville, Ohio to marry Gary Underwood, the love of her life, in 1963.

She worked for many years at the Ashland West Holmes Vocational School as a guidance counselor secretary. She also worked for Ashland United Way and became Director of the Ashland County Cancer Association and also worked as an AHS Cheerleader Advisor.

One of her greatest joys was delivering Mathew Dean Underwood, their only child in 1968. That event was only eclipsed by the birth of two wonderful grandchildren, Maxwell and Devan Underwood.

In mid 2008 she was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer and after a year-long courageous battle she departed this earth on June 4, 2009.

No one she ever met was a stranger for more than a few brief moments. She loved people and she loved life.

sophia23wpSophia’s Story