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Agnes Somlo

December 22, 2023
Agnes Somlo
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Obituary for Agnes Somlo

Agnes Somlo (1932-2023):

Friday morning, Dec. 22, five days past her 91st birthday, our beloved Agnes Somlo departed this life. Dr. Somlo passed gently in the early morning at Hope Health R.I. Hospice, She lived in Wingate's assisted living facility where she was among its most popular residents. Agnes brought to Wingate a wry humor and caring interest in her friends. She played Jeopardy on Mondays and was much sought after as a lunch partner at the cafeteria. She had a vivid interest in current events, and closely followed world affairs. Agnes voted regularly. Her absence from Wingate caused widespread concern among her fellow residents.

Dr. Somlo's family was nearby, in Providence, where they settled, and a brief train ride from New York City, where her eldest daughter lives. They all visited Agnes frequently, and drew close to many of of the Wingate residents..

Agnes was born in Budapest, Hungary, in 1932. She attended medical school there and married a fellow student, Laszlo Ivan Somlo. Together, they managed to escape from Hungary during the uprising against communist rule in 1956. After a harum-scarum ride in the back of a renegade truck, they reached Austria and made their way to Canada. Together they finished their medical degreesat a medical school in London, Ontario. Agnes specialized in pulmonary medicine, Laszlo in pathology. They left Canada to Texas in 1965, found medical jobs in Houston but felt little love for their life in Houston, and in 1967 left to settle on the East Side of Providence, Rhode Island. They lived at University Heights, then bought a little house on Ninth Street, and a bigger house on Taber Avenue. A few years after Laszlo passed away in 2016, Agnes relocated to Wingate, where she lived for five years.

Dr. Somlo worked at Pawtucket Memorial Hospital, now shuttered and had a private practice out of an office on School Street in that city. She was known for her dedication to the health of her patients, and for her diligence in attending to their needs, including house calls that were rare even then. Her patients were dedicated to her as well, and she had many long-term relationships with them, often accepting barter for care. At a time when female doctors were still rare, she represented the gold standard of patient care. She retired from medical practice in 2000.

As a retired doctor and active mother, Agnes pursued intellectual enrichment at Hamilton House, on College Hill. An avid reader, she supported the Providence Public Library at Rochambeau, and was a dedicated supporter of the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra, whose concerts she frequented with her husband. 

Agnes was deeply saddened by the loss of Laszlo, her beloved husband of 60 years, She had told her eldest daughter several times over the years that her sole selfish wish in life was to die before her adored husband. She was not granted that wish and outlived Laszlo by eight years. Slowly, her zest for life dissipated. And yet she always managed to entertain her friends, family and fellow residents at Wingate. Until lately, her eyes sparkled and her brows would arch, as if she were recalling a melody from Beethoven's “Ode to Joy.”

She is survived by her eldest daughter, Barbara Somlo, whose husband, Alex Koh, died in 2017, and their son Stephen, now living in St. Petersburg, and daughter, Sophia, known as “Pia,” now living in Berlin. Agnes’s youngest daughter, Victoria, her husband David and their son William “Billy” Laszlo Brussat live on the East Side. For all of us, our hearts and minds will always be filled with memories of Agnes, who was mother to us all.

According to her wishes, there will be an intimate burial of her ashes in the Spring. She will finally rest in peace with the love of her life, in perpetuity. Organizations she supported include Heifer International, Hope Hospice and Rochambeau Library. Dr. Somlo would wish friends to donate in her honor to any of these.

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