TRIBUTE: Sophie Gill Kolonics was a teenager when she began working behind her dad’s bar on Bender Place in Cliffside Park, just below Palisade Avenue above Gorge Road.
Kolonics, who went on to own and operate Gill’s Tavern, turning it into an Eastern Bergen institution, died of a heart attack Friday while surrounded by loved ones. She was 87 and still working — more than 50 years after she’d started.
Now Gill’s is opening its doors for a memorial and its Facebook page to remembrances of the woman with the perpetual smile.
“She was like a mom to me,” wrote Francie Donovan. “[M]any nites I would visit her and we would catch up on our day. Her energy was unstoppable[. S]he cared, genuinely cared about people, their families and just how you were.”
“Growing up in Cliffside Park everyone knew & loved Sophie,” Teri Powers added. “[W]henever anyone would say lets meet at Gill’s, Sophie & her yummy burgers were one of the first things u would think of, along with having a great time with great people.”
“Made the best burgers w/onion as sweet as she was,” added Richard Gianfredi. “Sophie had a golden perpetual smile!”
A funeral is set for 11 a.m. Thursday at Trinity Episcopal Church, 555 Palisade Ave., Cliffside Park, followed by burial in Hackensack Cemetery. A memorial will be held at Gill’s from 5 to 7 o”clock that night.
Visiting hours are from 3 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Konopka a Funeral Home, 9046 Palisade Ave., North Bergen.
The family florist is Blue Violet Florist, 455 Harding Place, Fairview, (201) 941-8674. And although flowers would be appreciated, Sophie’s family intends to set up a local scholarship in her name at Cliffside Park High School, her alma mater.
Details for donating to the scholarship will be posted as soon as arrangements are made. Donations can also be made during the wake service.
You can also add to and/or read the warm, cheerful remembrances of Sophie by going to: Memories of Sophie / Gill’s Tavern (FACEBOOK)
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