One Hundred Years in the Books
Village Shalom's Jack Sokolov was featured in a book exploring the lives of centenarians from all 50 states.
It’s no secret, exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, but in rare cases it can also lead to a personal profile in a book published by a major publishing house.
Since his heart attack in 1998, Jack Sokolov has dedicated himself to a consistent regiment of heart-healthy work outs. Nineteen years later, Sokolov is 102 and still at it.
Last year, Sokolov had the opportunity to join centenarians from every state in a collection of photographs and life stories preserved in the book If I Live to Be 100: The Wisdom of Centenarians.
When Sokolov reached his 100th birthday, he also celebrated his 15th year of rehabilitation with the St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Center. A celebration was held at St. Luke’s South Hospital to commemorate both occasions, catching the attention of Fox 4 News which featured Sokolov on its evening and morning broadcasts.
“[After the broadcast] I started hearing from a few friends who called about the segment, and that was all I thought I would hear about it,” said Sokolov.
Sokolov’s short run with fame had almost completely faded when it came back with the ring of a telephone.
In September of 2015, six months after his news feature, Sokolov picked up the phone to hear from a New York publishing house that saw his segment and wanted to set up an interview.
Jack Sokolov shows off the book he was featured in, If Live to Be 100: The Wisdom of Centenarians.
“I was puzzled, why would someone want to come out from New York to talk to me? I thought it was a scam,” said Sokolov. “On the first call, I turned them down.”
The publishing house, Welcome Books, had been drawn to Sokolov by the news clip showcasing his inspiring story.
Far from a scam, the book was the real deal. Crafted by award-winning photographer Paul Mobley and author Allison Milionis whose work has appeared in publications across the world, the book was sponsored by Norman Lear, a famous television writer and producer known for shows such as All in the Family and Sanford and Son.
Persistent, the publishing house went through St. Luke’s and Sokolov’s daughter to earn his trust and convince him to agree to an interview.
In spring of 2016, Mobley visited Sokolov in his home.
“He showed up in big special made Mercedes bus with all kinds of equipment,” said Sokolov. “He must have taken over 100 shots of me.”
After meeting with Mobley, Sokolov learned one centenarian would be chosen to represent each state. Mobley was going across the country to meet all who were being considered for the book and the decision would be made later in the year.
A few months after the photoshoot with Mobley, Sokolov learned that he had been chosen as the book’s representative of Kansas.
“The book speaks for itself, it’s a very beautiful book,” said Sokolov.
Sokolov’s life story is set into the pages. His parents came to the United States in 1897 from Russia. Within a few years they settled in Kansas City and had three children, including Jack.
In 1932, Sokolov graduated from high school in the midst of the Great Depression which prevented him from attending a university — Sokolov’s biggest regret in life. He instead took night classes at a junior college and which lead to several jobs working in accounting.
He married his late wife, Bess, in 1940 and the two were married for 73 years. After the birth of three children, he decided to go into business with his father-in-law – owning and operating an auto parts business.
Sokolov ran his business for nearly 50 years. He retired after growing the business into a three-acre site that included a store, full-service distributorship and machine shop.
He used a year of his retirement to write his own book, which he gifted to his family at his 45th wedding anniversary dinner. The book detailed his family’s genealogy and Sokolov’s life story — the story of him and his wife, his business, and his 26 years spent as a sponsor of Israeli officers who came to the United States.
Sokolov credits his longevity to his loving wife, family, and his habitual exercise.
Among the 50-plus centenarians featured in the book, Sokolov was also pictured and mentioned in the book’s introduction.
“[Being featured in the book] was something nice, I show it to people when they come to visit me, but I don’t like to make a fuss about it,” said Sokolov.