Residents and community leaders will remember former Waxahchie City Manager Robert Wayne “Bob” Sokoll for his strong leadership and big heart.

Sokoll passed away at his Waxahachie home Wednesday afternoon, surrounded by his loving family, after a long, brave battle with cancer.

Sokoll was born Feb. 16, 1940, in Idalou, Texas, to Ben and Lillan Sokoll. He attended St. Mary’s University in San Antonio where he was a proud member of the Barons Men’s Fraternity. He graduated from Texas Tech University with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. After college he spent six months of active duty in the Marine Corps Reserves, followed by 5 1/2-years on inactive duty.

He met Susan Perkins and they were married in Lubbock, Texas on July 10, 1965. Together, they proudly raised three daughters, Shanna, Tobin and Katha. Sokoll’s career in public service began in Abernathy where he served as the city manager for 10 years before moving to Waxahachie in 1982 where he served as city manager until December 2006.

“Bob meant everything to me and Waxahachie. He was an outstanding city manager. He and I worked economic development for many years and I could not asked for a better a man to be a partner with in the things we tried to accomplish for the city,” Waxahachie Mayor Buck Jordan said. “He did an outstanding job all the time that he was here. He was very open to the public and was always there for us.”

Waxahachie City Manager Paul Stevens agreed with Jordan and said Sokoll always looked at the future of the city and not the past.

“His biggest thing was to make sure that the city of Waxahachie had enough water. He worked tirelessly in those efforts to secure water rights to see that the new water treatment plant was built and that is probably his lasting legacy,” Stevens said. “He was a true mentor to me. He took the job as city manager very seriously and always had the citizens at heart. He had a huge heart and didn’t want a whole lot of recognition for what he did. He just went quietly about it.”

Michael Scott was promoted to assistant city manager when Sokoll retired in 2006, leaving the city in great shape by putting strong leaders in place.

“Where do you even start? He was so well respected in the city management sector and always thought of as an example of what a city manager should be,” Scott said. “Personally, he was always a role model of what I wanted to be in my career. He will be dearly missed.”  

Former mayor and city councilor Joe Jenkins worked along side Sokoll and considered him not only to be a close friend but an inspiration.

“I enjoyed the opportunity of working with him on the council. He always had the city’s best interest. He was always fair. He was always interested in all of the citizens and above all that he was just a very good man,” Jenkins said. “He was an inspiration to me and helped me along the way. He always had the best interest for Waxahachie at heart.”

Waxahachie city councilman Chuck Beatty said Sokoll was one of the driving forces behind the creation of Freedman Memorial Plaza located on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Beatty said Sokoll set aside city funds to create a park for the memorial so it could be built.  The memorial is dedicated to the struggles and lasting contributions of Waxahachie’s African American community.

Former mayor Ron Wilkinson said Sokoll was one of the most dedicated people he knew and his passing “will be a great loss for the city he loved so much.”

Former city secretary Nancy Ross was deeply saddened by Sokoll’s passing.

“It is a personal loss as well as a civic one,” Ross said. “I was the city secretary when he came here in 1982 and we worked together until he retired in 2006. We worked closely together and I have to say he was a very good city manager. We got along very well. He let me do my job. He would always do what was right. His death is such a shock – for the end to come so soon.

“Bob was a good person,” Ross said. “He was very close to his family and his girls were the apple of his eye. I remember Bob as being very honest. Even when it came to dealing with the city council he expressed himself. He knew the city finances and could quote anything you wanted to know. He really pushed to have a good water supply for the city. That was one of his passions.”

When queried about managing the city during the Super Collider episode, Ross quickly pointed out that Sokoll handled the entire situation very well, from the beginning to the end.

“In the past we had city managers that were good and some not so good,” Ross said. “Bob was very good. He always had a plan and contingencies to fall back on. He always had the interests of the city at heart. He was very plain spoken and would certainly speak his piece. He knew what he was doing at all times. He will be missed by so many. A lot of people in this community had dealings with Bob and most of them will tell you the same things I have said.”

Sokoll’s daughter, Katha, said he was the most honest man she has ever known, which is what made him a great leader. He passed onto his children a strong work ethic and a love of education.

“He was all business for a long time when we were kids, but he was able to go into retirement and enjoy himself. He was heavily involved in the church but most importantly he was involved with his grandkids,” Katha Sokoll said. “The man would have chemo at 9 a.m. and then would go and volunteer at the church afterword’s.

Katha said he did love his job as city manager. But most of all he loved providing for his family, which was always at the forefront of his mind in everything he did. And along the way he set this amazing example.

Sokoll was preceded in death by his parents, Ben and Lillian Sokoll, and his beloved oldest daughter, Shanna Sokoll.

A memorial service will be held at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Waxahachie with interment to follow at the Waxahachie City Cemetery.  Visitation will be held at Wayne Boze Funeral Home.  Times and dates are still to be determined.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to St. Joseph Catholic Church of Waxahachie on behalf of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, 512 E. Marvin Ave. in Waxahachie.

Contact Andrew at andrew.branca@wninews.com or 469-517-1451.