Abby Sobrato ’83 died on May 27, 2010. She was the wife of John M. Sobrato ’83, mother of John A. Sobrato ’10 and Jeff M. Sobrato ’11, and daughter-in-law of John M. Sobrato ’60. The following obituary appeared in the San Jose Mercury News on May 28.
Abby Sobrato, member of philanthropic family in Santa Clara Valley, dies of pancreatic cancer
By Sandra Gonzales
Abby Sobrato, a member of an influential philanthropic family with deep Santa Clara Valley roots, died Thursday after an eight-month battle with pancreatic cancer.
She was 49.
Mrs. Sobrato was the wife of John M. Sobrato and daughter-in-law of John A. Sobrato, a prominent developer and founder of the Sobrato Family Foundation, which has donated millions to nonprofit organizations.
Beyond being a devoted wife and mother, Mrs. Sobrato was a philanthropist in her own right – a woman with many charitable passions. On the top of that list was the Walden West Science Center, a nonprofit that encourages young students to learn the sciences.
She was not just the president of the Walden West Foundation in name, she led the building campaign for its science classrooms, said Margaret Nanda, a fellow board member.
"She was the most giving, loving, wonderful person," Nanda said. "She was the most sincere, genuinely kind person. A great light has been extinguished. I am just so sad. It’s a great loss for the whole valley."
Mrs. Sobrato also was the co-founder of the Princess Project Silicon Valley, a charitable mission that provides prom dresses and accessories for girls who can’t afford it, Nanda said.
Active in St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Los Gatos, Mrs. Sobrato graduated from Saratoga High. She met her husband at Santa Clara University – an account she lovingly recalls in a blog documenting her illness.
"This time in March always holds a special place in my heart. March 11, 1983, is the day that I met my husband," she wrote last March. Her husband was bartending at the university’s happy hour. "John poured me a beer and we noticed each other for the first time."
They married and had two sons, Jeff and John. Both now attend Santa Clara University.
"I was lucky to have the kids and all the ‘specials’ home for Thanksgiving. The ‘specials’ are the kids that have literally grown up with my kids," she wrote in December.
Throughout her illness, Mrs. Sobrato displayed high spirit and good cheer – traits she showed all her life.
"She was a very creative person and loved to socialize," Nanda said. "There are so many that can call her a friend."
She also was a great photographer, Nanda said.
Just months before her diagnosis, she was avidly snapping pictures at an open house for the Sobrato Center for Nonprofits, said Carole Leigh Hutton, president of United Way Silicon Valley. The foundation opened the center as a home for valley nonprofits.
"The whole Sobrato family and the family foundation are just extraordinary people," Hutton said.
Hutton met her for the first time in September 2008, when Mrs. Sobrato and her husband accepted a "Philanthropist of the Year" United Way award on behalf of the Sobrato Family Foundation.
"I found her quite remarkable. I think of her as just an incredibly vivacious, dynamic energetic person," Hutton said. "It’s just so tragic to see this happen to someone so young and so giving."
A funeral Mass will be celebrated at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 219 Bean Ave., Los Gatos at 10 a.m. Wednesday.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Mrs. Sobrato’s memory to the Walden West Foundation, 15555 Sanborn Road, Saratoga, CA 95070-9709.