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Multi-ethnic Chicago | by yooperann
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Multi-ethnic Chicago

As the neighborhood has changed from Polish to Hispanic, so has the funeral home. It's actually a great story. "The son of tavern owners, Sojka was born June 28, 1930, and grew up at 727 N. Noble St. "He wasn't sure what he wanted to do and decided to go into the funeral business because it was something different. He wanted to provide personal service," Cruz said.

Sojka lived in a second-floor apartment above the funeral home, where he enjoyed cooking and entertaining, which were his passions, Cruz said.

"He had a number of girlfriends over the years, but I am guessing his involvement in the neighborhood and church kept him so busy that it was never in the cards for him to marry," Cruz said.

And when he wasn't being a homebody, Sojka enjoyed sitting in front of his business around 4:30 p.m. daily, where he enjoyed people-watching and saying hello to passers-by, while accompanied by his Chihuahua, Chico.”

"We are across the street from a bar, and he would say, 'Look at all these young people,' and say it is fantastic. He was 100 percent for gentrification," Cruz said.

Though he has no surviving immediate family outside of two nieces from a deceased brother (Sojka's late sister was a nun), Sojka served as a grandfather to the Cruz family's three children, Cruz said.

Cruz lives in a third-floor apartment above the funeral home with his wife, Elsa, and their youngest son. "We would eat with him, one family under one roof. He would just come upstairs. We ate together almost every day," Cruz said.

Cruz, who is the funeral home's only employee and was willed the business by Sojka, plans to continue operating the home under Sojka's name."

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Taken on December 29, 2016