Sophie Annan Jensen, a former Press Democrat features editor and reporter, showed gumption in becoming one of the Miami Herald's first female copyboys and in retiring alone to Mexico for a decade.

Jensen died July 23 of an apparent heart attack at her son's home in Lake County. She was 77.

She is remembered as a spirited, determined journalist who wrote effortlessly and had a passion for story telling.

She had been at The Press Democrat less than six months in 1974 when her freelance interview with author Jessica Mitford made the cover of Writer's Digest magazine. The newspaper touted her achievement, saying Jensen had proven herself a tenacious and insightful interviewer.

"She was a real adventurer," said Susan Swartz, a former Press Democrat columnist and reporter who became good friends with Jensen. She recalled her as a gutsy, imaginative editor who was a stickler for details.

Born Patricia Merrill Annan in Detroit, Jensen graduated from the University of Miami. During college, she worked as a copyboy at the Miami Herald.

She would go on to work for Women's Wear Daily, the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle and the Santa Barbara News Press.

At the Press Democrat, she served as chairwoman of the Newspaper Guild, the union that represents newsroom employees.

In 1975 she divorced her husband, retired Sonoma State University professor Carl Jensen, who she had met in Florida. After her divorce, she legally changed her name from Patricia to Sophia.

"She just thought it was a beautiful name," her daughter, Lisa Jensen of Monterey, said of the change.

After retiring in 1990, Jensen moved to Mexico and lived in the states of Jalisco and Nayarit. She later lived about a decade in the Lake County community of Lucerne.

Lisa Jensen said her mother loved to write, to read books, to garden and to travel. She went alone to Egypt to tour the Nile River, and she traveled to Cuba soon after it was possible for Americans to venture there.

"My mom never understood the word &‘relax,'" she said.

Along with her daughter, Jensen is survived by two other children, John Jensen of Lucerne and Pia Jensen of Costa Rica; a stepson, Sherman Jackson of Crescent City; by three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

A private celebration of her life will be held in September.

— Robert Digitale