Phillip Michael Sokira
Phillip Michael Sokira, a beloved and loving husband, father, grandfather, and friend will forever be missed. He unexpectedly passed away in his North Carolina home on Thursday evening, August 11th, just shy of his 76th birthday.
Phil was born on August 30th, 1946 in Corning, NY to parents Julia (Kapral) and George Sokira. Growing up on the east side of Corning, Phil was surrounded by his loving grandparents, aunts, uncles, and numerous cousins, particularly Stephanie (Dates), who not only served as playmates but life-long friends.
In his youth, Phil often worked alongside his Dad and Mom at the family business, Sokira’s Rug Mart, instilling in him a strong work ethic which he not only carried throughout life, but passed on to his children. He was particularly close to both of his parents and enjoyed ice fishing and watching wrestling with his Dad. His love of boxing comes from his mom, with whom he watched fights until her death. As an avid boxing fan, he could recount fights, rounds, and stats like no other. He later shared this love with his children, who accompanied him to the International Boxing Hall of Fame for many years. Phil’s love of dogs was forged in his youth with his dear Sally.
Phil pursued an education in Cytology and was well-respected in his field. It was at Robert Packer Hospital that he set his sights on a beautiful nurse, Phyllis (Wilcox), whom he eventually won over and married just 11 months into their courtship. Their marriage would span 52 years. Phil, being an only child, always wanted a large family. He got his wish with four beautiful children: Chris (Jess), Lori (Michael), Holly (Greg), and Mike (Andrea). He loved his daughters-in-law and sons-in-law as if they were his own. Eventually, he was blessed with nine grandchildren: Owen, Gwendolyn, Aeowyn, Brynna, Madison, Riley, Jude, Jacqueline and Axel.
Phil and Phyl raised their family in Wellsburg, NY. They both worked for many years at St. Joseph's Hospital. Phil had numerous affiliations with multiple area hospitals, too. He was an active member in the Wellsburg community, coaching little league. He was the girls and boys all-star coach for many years. Being a skilled photographer, he took annual player-portraits, free of charge. It was important to Phil that all players got to play, no matter ability. Phil was a fixture at the Wellsburg Diner, local auctions, and at Dunn Field, taking in a Pioneer’s game. He won the “Dirtiest Car” in the parking lot award on more than one occasion.
Phil was larger than life. He was the king of cheesy dad and inappropriate jokes alike. He loved to make people laugh, but he also loved to teach people things. He was well-read, a lover of antiques and collectibles, oldies music, a jack-of-all-trades and master of many, an excellent conversationalist and storyteller. Why he never went on Jeopardy, his family will never know. Phil was quick-witted, sarcastic and a generous man, who engaged in conversation with people from all walks of life. Phil was an inspiration to his family and friends. He overcame alcoholism in 1979, encouraging his father to do the same. He had many friends, who he checked on regularly until his passing.
Family was most important to Phil. He was an extremely active father, never hesitating to volunteer for his kids' events. He never missed one of his children’s games or performances, nor let them skip a practice, much to their chagrin. Phil made sure that his kids had a wonderful childhood, whether that meant playing with them in the snow or pool or taking them to some event. Phil and Phyl created over the top Christmas gatherings for their family. Phil woke up every Christmas morning to a house with his wife, kids, and eventually all his grandkids. Phil, being the joker he was, took every opportunity to embarrass his kids, especially in their teen years. They secretly enjoyed his antics and it has given his family lots of laughs. Phil made everyone’s birthday special, whether it was his traditional early morning call singing Happy Birthday, which he did for his twin granddaughters the day before he died, or making his famous chocolate eclair cake for his daughter, Lori. He loved baking and cooking for his family, which he did until his last day. Phil was so proud of his children and that they all have post-baccalaureate educations. Phil would say that his greatest accomplishment was raising such a close, happy and successful family.
Phil is also survived by his beloved Aunts Lally and Margie, an adored brother-in-law and sister-in-law Joseph and Glenda Solowiej, sister-in-law Judy, brother-in-law Steve (Sue), several cherished cousins, as well as many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents and three special dogs, Sally, Heidi and Maggie.
Family and friends are invited to celebrate Phil’s life on his birthday, August 30th. We ask that you put on a Hawaiian shirt, listen to your favorite oldies music, and share memories of Phil with us or someone you love. Phil was an unconventional man, who did not want conventional funeral services. Phil is forever in our hearts!
In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to a local animal shelter or the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, NY.