Sokolski, Michael, was born in Poland, to Russian-born parents on September 25, 1926. During World War II, and the German occupation of Poland, Michael's home was bombed and he lost his mother. He was sixteen when he left the city alone on the last demolition train out, with only a loaf of bread.
Understanding the tremendous value of freedom, Michael served with the Polish Forces under the British Eighth Army Command during 1945 - 47 in Italy. He fought in the successful battle of Monte Cassino as a tank driver, was wounded, and honored with the Italy Star and War Medal for his service and enlisted with the Polish Resettlement Corps. Due to his "very good" military record, he was selected to be a student in the British Institute of Technology in Fermo, Italy. After his discharge, he emigrated to Sweden and ultimately to St. Paul, Minnesota.
In St. Paul, he entered Hamline University in 1952, as a foreign student. He worked his way through school for five years, receiving his Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering from the University of Minnesota. After graduation, he took a position in Hawaii and eventually came back to Minnesota. There he worked for IBM Rochester as a design engineer, for five years, and in 1963 he became a U.S. Citizen. From 1966-1969 he founded and served as President of Datronics in Rochester, which he eventually sold to 3M Corporation.
In 1972, Michael moved to Santa Ana and married Joanne W. Mayo on July 2, 1972. That year, he founded Scan-Tron where he served as Executive Vice President of Engineering. As the engineer inventor of the multiple question, #2 pencil tests, Michael Sokolski revolutionized the method in which students, from all over the world, contend with test taking. He held multiple optical mark reading U. S. patents.
Mike was a Technical Reserve for the Santa Ana Police Department in 1979, a life time member of the Advisory Board for the Orange County Sheriff Department, was involved in both department's K-9 groups, listed in the "Who's Who in Finance and Industry", as well as Forbes Magazine 1984.
Mike's love of navigation fostered his interest in sailing and flying as a private pilot. In his retirement, Mike's love of the sea took him to Wisconsin's Apostle Islands and Lake Superior and on the West Coast the Queen Charlotte Islands in British Columbia fishing for the elusive King Salmon. He was a "Master Fisherman" catching multiple 50 plus pound salmons. He made 123 trips during a 25-year period, taking his wife and family on many occasions.
Mike treated the sea with such integrity, that he was made an honorary Chief of the Haida Nation, a native culture of British Columbia. He was named Kilssay (Chief) G_uud (Eagle). He considered this to be a great privilege because the Haida culture is born of respect and intimacy with the land and sea and the air around us.
Michael Sokolski passed away on Wednesday, June 13, 2012 at age 85 due to congestive heart failure. He is survived by his wife, Joanne; sister, Helen Brandes; nephew, Dr. William Brandes; niece, Dr. Lisa Brandes (Dr. Scot McLean); step-children he helped raise, Jodi C. Mayo, Dr. Joseph G. Mayo (Susan); grandchildren, Jennifer Kremen, Elizabeth Kremen, Kathryn Mayo, Joseph Mayo, Chloe Joanne Mayo, Charlotte Mayo and Chandler Mayo. He was preceded in death by his stepson, Dr. Chester W. P. Mayo, and grandson, Chester Michael Mayo.
Funeral services will be held on Thursday, June 28, 2012 at 2:30 p.m., Fairhaven Memorial Park & Mortuary, Waverley Chapel: 1702 Fairhaven Ave., Santa Ana, CA 92705, reception to follow. Fairhaven Memorial Park
Published in Orange County Register on Jun. 26, 2012.