Mary Patten Sokolik

Honored by:Rosemary and Diane Sokolik
Brick location:D:15  map

Born: June 3, 1920
Fort Madison, Iowa
Oldest child of Harry Archibald Patten and Esther Bernadine Bueter Patten Married: Edward James Sokolik, St. Joseph Church, Fort Madison, Iowa on April 6, 1942
Moved to Des Moines, Iowa and adopted two children:
Rosemary Sokolik, born August 16, 1947
Diane Sokolik, born May 2, 1951

Though the statistics may look pretty ordinary, there is absolutely nothing commonplace about Mary Sokolik's life. In fact, she has touched so many lives in so many different ways, this Mary may be best summarized as a verb not a noun!

Though Mary was the oldest child of five, she wasn't the sole focus of her parents' attention for long. Her only brother Jay followed just 14 months later - making the pair very close chronologically and emotionally. Picture albums are filled with photos of Mary and Jay as toddlers in their Easter finery; later as teens with friends on the banks of the Mississippi and as young adults frolicking in the San Bernadino Mountains in California.

Mary did her share of work, though. As each sibling followed, Mary's responsibilities grew. She cleaned and cooked and watched her younger sisters, Gertrude, Rita, Lois, and Dorothy. After high school she went to cosmetology school and opened her own shop in downtown Fort Madison. She continued to live at home and the family became so accustomed to her assistance that, when she announced her plans to marry, her father muttered, "But what will we do without Mary?"

The Patten household did survive and their loss was a gain for Ed Sokolik. The newlyweds moved to Des Moines and established a new life during those lean war years.

By 1947 the war was over, and Mary was working in the cosmetics department at Younkers department store when Catholic Charities called that a child was available for adoption. As Mary had promised to Ed and to Younkers, that would be her last day of work outside the home.

For the next three and one half years, Mary focused her attentions on getting baby Rosemary off to a good start. Then came a second call: A child was in need of a foster family. And while Mary told the nun in charge that she only would go to the Christ Child Home to play with the little girl, Mary and Rosemary brought the baby home. A year later, baby Diane's mother signed away her parental rights and Mary and Ed became the parents of two.

In a short time it seems, Mary's life became a series of PTA meetings, bake sales, church bazaars, and "fun nights." Piano, ballet, tap dancing, and swimming lessons. Girl Scout nut sales, day camps and overnights. And since it was in the days before automatic washers and dryers and microwaves, she still had to carve out a niche of time to wash and wring the clothes, hang them on the line to dry and prepare a real meat-and-potatoes meal before Ed walked through the door at 5:30 pm.

Mary knew how to organize, how to recruit help, how to get a job done. She also knew how to have fun doing it. No wonder then, that when there was a need to develop a summer camp for Catholic kids, Mary and Ed were asked to spearhead the effort. For ten summers Mary directed the camp.

But life wasn't all work for Mary. You could look along the route of any parade or in the midst of a crowd surrounding some celebrity or political candidate. There was Mary -- usually with daughters in tow. Mary has a wide circle of friends and belongs to several social groups -- Mother's Club, Altar and Rosary, Woodside Women's Golf, Des Moines Schools' Retired Secretaries -- and now that she and Ed are living at Mercy Park apartments, she leads water exercises, does line dancing in the winter, and participates in weekly "coffees" sponsored by the complex. Mary is a busy, busy woman.

She also is happy. And perhaps that is the best reason for giving her a brick in the Plaza of Heroines. Her spirit and sense of well being characterize her more than any of the things she's done in her life. And it is that appreciation for and love of life that Mary shares with all those who know her. Without question, Mary makes a mark wherever she goes, whatever she does, with whomever she meets.

But while Mary has blessed so many people with her special gifts, surely we, her daughters, are the most blessed of all. We call her "mom" and wonder as Grandpa Patten did over 50 years ago, "What will we do without Mary?"

Submitted on 2/95