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Sophie Zane Powell 1922-2019

Sophie Zane Powell died at home in New Haven, CT on Dec. 24, age 97. Born in Albany, CA, Sophie was the daughter of Stephan George Zazunian (Zane) and Elizabeth Papasian. She attended University High School (UNI) in Oakland and completed 3 years of study at UC Berkeley. In 1943, she traveled by train from Berkeley to Winfield, Kansas where, on August 23rd, she married Raymond Park Powell who was serving in the Army Air Corps. From 1952 to 1980, Sophie and Ray together were part of the Yale University community where Ray was a professor of Soviet economics. They lived in both Italy and Kenya for extended periods, traveling to other many other world sites following their loves of art, architecture, history and good food. After losing Ray prematurely in 1980, Sophie returned to a position as the secretary to the Dean of the Yale School of Architecture, which she thoroughly enjoyed. She also vigorously continued her adventurous travel around the world. After retirement, Sophie volunteered for the New Haven Preservation Trust, the New Haven Museum, and the Home Haven Village Association where she chaired the Events Committee into her 90’s.

Sophie is survived by her daughter, Laura Kemper (Peter) of State College, PA; her son, Stephen Powell (Rebecca) of Enfield, New Hampshire; cousin, Gregory Belenky of Spokane, WA; granddaughters, Elizabeth Bovee Kemper (Cindy) of Greenville, SC and Joanna Kemper of State College, PA, and grandson, Nicholas Powell of Denver, CO. Also three much-loved great-grandchildren, Madisyn, Harley, and Elijah.

A reception to celebrate Sophie’s life will be held between 2:00 and 4:00 PM on Saturday, January 11th at the New Haven Museum. There will be brief remarks at 2:30. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in Sophie’s memory to the New Haven Museum, 114 Whitney Avenue, New Haven, CT 06510. Messages for the family may be left at

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Sophie was a lively soul and a ready wit, up for a cookie-exchange or a road-trip to a museum. We extend condolences to her children and grand-children and extended family.


Robert and Cecilia Berner

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