Socrates J. Space, philosopher, counselor, conversationalist, proud Marine, and loving father, died peacefully at home on April 26, 2021, at age 90.
A child of the Great Depression, Soc was born on September 4, 1930, in Dover Ohio. His parents, Zacharias “Jack” and Despina (Pardos) Space immigrated to America in the early 20th century from the magical Greek island of Ikaria. While growing up in poverty, Soc was blessed with a loving and close-knit family that endured and overcame hardships common to immigrant families during this period. He shined shoes and set up bowling pins to help put bread on the family's table, starting at a very young age. He overcame adversity, eventually earning three varsity letters as a 145-pound defensive lineman for the Dover Tornadoes football team, and was elected by his classmates as Senior Class President of the Dover High Class of 1949.
After graduation, Soc went to work at Reeves Mill, where he became a card-carrying member of the United SteelWorkers before being drafted into the Marine Corps. As a Marine, Soc fought bravely for his country during the Korean War. Upon his return, the GI Bill enabled him to enlist at The Ohio State University, where he graduated with a degree in Political Science. He went on to earn his juris doctorate degree from Ohio State before returning to Dover, embarking on a successful legal career in Tuscarawas County that would span five decades.
In addition to his private legal practice, Soc served as Judge of the Tuscarawas County Court Southern Division, and worked for many years as an attorney for the State of Ohio Department of Transportation. He also served as Special Counsel to three Ohio Attorney Generals. He developed exceptional oratory skills that, combined with his personable nature, wooed juries on behalf of his many clients over the years. His rich voice and gift for public speaking helped him excel in Toastmasters; and served as a foundation for his important work in politics. He was very active in the Tuscarawas County Democratic Party, serving two separate stints as County Chairman, and he provided guidance and support for countless politicians at the local, statewide, and national levels. He was a proud delegate at the 1988 Democratic Convention for the Presidential campaign of fellow Greek-American, Michael Dukakis. Soc’s crowning political achievement involved helping elect his son, Zack, to Congress in 2006.
Soc’s charming intellect and fierce loyalty won him the adoration of countless friends, clients, politicians, and even political and legal adversaries.
Soc was a multidimensional man of many talents. His artistic flair was manifested in beautiful pottery and sculptures, and helped inspire his daughter Stephanie's devotion to the arts. His love for politics and knack for the law continue with Zack.
Upon his retirement from the practice of law in 2008, Soc remained active, particularly in politics. In 2018, he accompanied Zack on a statewide campaign for Ohio Auditor that saw him log over 100,000 miles, visiting counties, cities and villages across Ohio, serving a vital role in an exhausting political endeavor. Soc, who turned 89 that year, never once tired from the demands of that campaign, despite suffering from a debilitating medical condition. Since his passing, scores of people he touched along the way have reached out to the family to express their sadness at his loss.
A timeless sense of humor; compassion for those in need; sharp political acumen; his philosophical waxing; a personable and social demeanor; and love for and commitment to friends and family — all these things endeared Soc to people of all stripes. He will be, and indeed, already is, dearly missed by many.
He is survived by his daughter Stephanie Space (Tom Johnson); his son, former Congressman Zack Space; his special friend and caregiver, Erin Noviski; his sister and Matriarch of the Space family, Mary Smith; his grandchildren Gina (Tyler Tompkins) and Nick Space, and Socrates, Alex (Kadi) and Leo Incarnato; and his great-granddaughters, Violet Incarnato and Stella Tompkins. He is also survived by nieces and nephews, Denise Hollister, Zack (Jean) Space, Athena (Ron) Hooker, Pat Johnson, Chris (Bobbi) Smith, and Tony (Nancy) Smith, and many great- and great-great-nieces and nephews. Also surviving are his “neighborhood son,” Dave Johns; his former daughter-in-law Judge Mary Space; his former wife, Vicki Space, and stepchildren Wendy Busby, Terri (Eric) Smith, and Shannon Croley, and step-grandchildren Travis (Erika) Smith, Sam Smith, Casey (Joseph) Emery, Ben and Bryan Croley, and great step-grandson Holton Smith.
Soc is preceded in death by his beloved daughter, Gina, with whom he has been reunited. Soc was also preceded in death by his parents, his brothers Jim, George, and Pete Space, and sisters-in-law Bessie and Mary Ann Space, brother-in-law Bill Smith, nephews Jimmy Space, Phil Johnson, and Bob Hollister, and his former wife, Sandy Space.
Visitors are welcome to express their last goodbyes to this good man on Thursday, May 6th at the Toland-Herzig Funeral Home in Dover commencing at 3:00 PM, with a Greek Orthodox Trisaigon at 5:00 PM. Social distancing and mask wearing will be strictly observed.
The family asks those who wish to send flowers to instead consider a donation to the charity of their choosing, or to any of these worthy causes in Soc’s name: The Appalachian Children Coalition (5 Depot St., Athens, OH 45701), the Alzheimer’s Association (225 N Michigan Ave. Fl 17, Chicago IL 60601), or the Central Ohio JDRF (100 W Old Wilson Rd #118, Worthington, OH).