Joseph Harold Sokol, longtime owner of the former Morris Sokol Furniture Co. and a leader in the Jewish community, died Friday after a short battle with cancer. He was 86.
Sokol was born in Charleston on March 22, 1932, the son of Ida and Morris Sokol, who started Morris Sokol Furniture in 1921 "with a dream and delivery cart."
A 1953 Citadel graduate and member of the Summerall Guards, Sokol attended Wharton School of Business in Philadelphia and served a stint in the U.S. Army. He then took over store operations when his father retired.
Joe Sokol decided to retire in 2015, closed the furniture business after 94 years in downtown Charleston and sold the building. In March, the city dedicated the corner of King and Reid streets as "Sokol Family Block" to honor the late entrepreneur at the site of the family's longtime enterprise.
Sokol played a major role in the revitalization of Upper King Street and was an active member of the King Street Merchants Association. Former Mayor Joe Riley proclaimed March 22, 2012, as "Joe Sokol Day" six years before Mayor John Tecklenburg dedicated the block to his family.
Sokol was a past president of Brith Shalom Israel Synagogue and the Jewish Community Center. He also was a longtime member of the Hebrew Orphan Society and the Hebrew Benevolent Society, the oldest Jewish philanthropic organization in the U.S. Sokol also was involved in many other community service and philanthropic causes, which his family noted were too many to list.
Sokol is survived by Freida Sokol, his wife of 65 years; their four children, Ed Sokol, Eve Sokol, Freddie Sokol Schneider and Pauline Sokol Nakios (Thomas). They have nine grandchildren and one great-grandson. Sokol is survived by his sister, Sonia Greenberg.
Funeral services will be graveside at 11 a.m. Sunday at BSBI cemetery on Sycamore Avenue in West Ashley. Stuhr Funeral Home is in charge.
Donations in his honor can be made to Addlestone Hebrew Academy at 1675 Raoul Wallenberg Blvd., Brith Shalom Beth Israel Synagogue at 182 Rutledge Ave., both in Charleston, or Chabad of Charleston and the Low Country at 477 Mathis Ferry Road in Mount Pleasant.