Sophia Elizabeth Briggs (née Nancy Lois Murray, and known to some as Robin Briggs), age 90, of Alexandria, VA, formerly of Andover, MA, and Cambridge, MA, died of heart failure on September 7, 2017, at INOVA Alexandria Hospital.
Born in Cleveland, OH, May 5, 1927, she grew up in Cleveland Heights, OH. Ms. Briggs was preceded in death by her father (John Harrold Murray), mother (Lois Stewart Murray), and brother (John Stewart Murray). She is survived by two sons (Jonathan Briggs of Alexandria, VA, and Nathaniel Briggs, M.D. of Nashville, TN), two daughters (Amariel Holz of Asheville, NC, and Rebecca Daly of San Diego, CA), and three granddaughters (Tara Briggs, Lauren Holz, and Jessica Daly).
Ms. Briggs attended Cleveland Heights High School, where she graduated in 1945. She attended two years of college at Baldwin Wallace University, attended summer school at Western Reserve University, and transferred to Chatham University for one year, where she graduated in 1948 with a B.A. in History, finishing college in three years. Upon graduation, she was offered a scholarship to enter a Ph.D. program at the University of Oxford in Oxford, England, in exchange for working two years as a teacher in England. Unable to obtain the signature of an older adult, then required by Oxford to live and study in England for an extended period, she instead went to the University of Chicago, where she pursued a Ph.D. in Philosophy. After finishing all doctoral coursework at the University of Chicago, as well as preliminary work on her doctoral dissertation, “The Cult of the Virgin as Expressed in 12th and 13th Century French Cathedrals,” in 1952, she moved to Cambridge, MA, taking classes at Harvard University to do further research for her dissertation, although her Ph.D. remained unfinished. It was at Harvard University where she met her husband-to-be, Nelson A. Briggs, also a Philosophy major.
In the early years following her schooling, she worked as a teacher and tutor. After her children were born, she devoted herself to being a full-time mother. At the end of her career years, she worked as a proofreader, the last nine years at the accounting firm, Coopers and Lybrand, in Boston. During that time, she also attended the Episcopal Divinity School in Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA, where she graduated with a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) degree in 1996.
After retiring, Ms. Briggs lived in various locations, including Alexandria, VA; Cumming, GA; and for six years, at a small farmhouse in West Fairlee, VT. During retirement, she did extensive research and writing for a book to be titled, “The Unity of Yahweh and Hokma (Wisdom): Understanding God as the Oneness of Male and Female.”
Cremation occurred on Friday, September 15, 2017. A private memorial gathering will be held. The photo of Ms. Briggs was taken when she was in college.