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Ernest Sokal, a retired civil engineer, dies

Ernest Sokal, a retired civil engineer who escaped the Holocaust with his family, died of Parkinson's disease Jan. 11 at Arden Courts of Pikesville. He was 90.

The son of Saul Sokal, a lawyer and founder of the Labor Zionist Movement in Austria, and Tika Sokal, a psychiatrist, Ernest Sokal was born in Vienna.

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Mr. Sokal was 12 when he witnessed the Nazi annexation of Austria in 1938. With his father away attending the World Zionist Congress in London, his mother was able to secure railroad tickets for her family. They eventually reached England, where they were reunited with their husband and father.

They left London in 1940 and made their way in a harrowing trip across the Atlantic. Their ship was bombed by a German plane and trailed by a U-boat that did not attack.

Safely landing in New York City, Mr. Sokal completed his education at Peter Stuyvesant High School.

He shared his father's dream of a Jewish homeland in Israel, and after serving in the Army he was working on a farm in New Jersey preparing for life on a kibbutz when he met his future wife, Beverly Nemser.

While working at Habonim Kibbutz in Israel, he encountered Ms. Nemser again. They fell in love and married in 1950.

They returned to the U.S., where Mr. Sokal earned a degree in civil engineering from the University of Maine. In 1957, he moved to Baltimore and took a job with Capital Steel. He then founded his own steel detailing company, Ernest Sokal & Associates, in the early 1960s, which he gave to his employees when he retired in the 1990s. He also was a real estate investor.

Mr. Sokal, who had lived in Mount Washington, was an admirer of Sigmund Freud, the poetry of T.S. Eliot, and the novels of Ernest Hemingway, family members said.

Funeral services were held Jan. 15 at Sol Levinson & Bros. in Pikesville.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Sokal is survived by four sons, Eli Sokal of Owings Mills, Dr. Yoni Sokal of Yorktown Heights, N.Y., David Sokal of Seattle and Dr. Joseph Sokal of San Marcos, Texas; a daughter, Dina Sokal of Owings Mills; 10 grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

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