Murray Sokol

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Murray Sokol (born April 1, 1946 in Bessemer, died January 23, 2006) was a long-time employee and fixture at Gus Mayer in Brookwood Village.

Sokol was the first of four children born to shopkeeper Buddy Sokol. He started working holidays and Christmases at Sokol's at 12 years old. His bar mitzvah was celebrated the next year at Bessemer's Temple Emanu-El and at the Fairmont Country Club, with music by the Harrison Cooper Band.

At Bessemer High School, Sokol played saxophone in the marching band, graduating in 1964. He then went to the University of Alabama and pledged Zeta Beta Tau. He also joined the sales staff of the Crimson White and served on the homecoming committee.

After graduation he joined the U. S. Army and served as a 1st Lieutenant in Vietnam, earning a Bronze Star. He returned home and eventually married longtime sweetheart Joanie Aarons, who had two daughters by a former husband. He took a job working at the Gus Mayer men's store.

In his later years, Sokol was diagnosed with cancer and underwent a bone marrow transplant. Although he improved for a while, his health took a turn for the worse in January 2006. He died peacefully in his hospital bed at prayer with his family on January 23. He is buried at Elmwood Cemetery.


  • Hansen, Jeff (August 13, 2006) "A man of special strength". Birmingham News.