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Obituary of Nancy Ellen Hillman Sokol
Nancy Ellen Hillman Sokol passed away peacefully with family by her side on December 9, 2020 at the age of 89 due to natural causes, accelerated by the effects of isolation in assisted living communities from the pandemic lockdown since March 2020. She was born and raised in southwest Virginia, home of Emory & Henry College (E&H) where her father was the College Physician. After high school Nancy continued her education at E&H, and subsequently earned a Carnegie Fellowship, which enabled her to attend the George Peabody College for Teaching in Nashville, TN where she received her Master of Arts in Music Education. Nancy married her E&H classmate, Thomas Sokol, and began her music teaching career in the Nashville City Schools while her husband continued further graduate work. Their next move took them to Cambridge, MA where he became the assistant choral conductor at Harvard University. In 1957 they relocated to Ithaca, NY when he became the Choral Conductor of the Cornell Men's Glee Club, The Cornell Chorus, and the Sage Chapel Choir. Nancy kept very busy at home with their growing family of five children, and she graciously hosted student group socials. She also taught piano on the Steinway in their home, which she dearly loved. Following their divorce in the early seventies, Nancy began her second career in the Office of the Cornell Engineering College of Basic Studies. She later shifted to the Center for International Studies where she worked for Professor Mario Einaudi. She relished the opportunity to work for him as he developed the educational programs at the center which now bears his name. She then moved to the Classics Department in Goldwin Smith Hall, where for 18 years she was the devoted undergraduate secretary for the department. Over the years Nancy enjoyed working with many distinguished faculty and wonderful staff members. Nancy retired in 2001 after 28 years of service to Cornell. Soon after retirement she joined the Cornell University Retirees Association board and served as Treasurer for a decade. She also rented rooms to graduate students in her Cornell Heights home. Nancy had a keen passion for and knowledge of classical music including performances and recordings. In addition to her love of reading, fondness for current events, the Hangar Theatre, and keeping in touch with her geographically dispersed kids, she enjoyed participating in and watching athletic activities. From roller skating as a child, to becoming captain of the E&H women's basketball team, to the Cornell Women's Golf League, and the Ithaca Women's Bowling League, she was a skillful competitor. Nancy was a loyal supporter of Cornell football and basketball, an avid fan of the New York Yankees and Syracuse University basketball. She leaves behind her loving family who will hold her forever in their hearts including five children, Stephanie (Michel) Ducamp, Rolfe Sokol, Maria (Phillip) Jannetto, Anne (Michael) Ledbetter, Julia Sokol (Wendy Creese). Nancy had eight grandchildren: Gabriella (Morgan) Fainberg, Alexander Ducamp (Courtney Glasbergen), Marcella, Phillip III (Audra), Jeremiah and Josephina Jannetto, Geoffrey and Alexander (Kelsey) Ledbetter and eight great grandchildren: Ava Luna and Logan Ducamp, Alana Calista Fainberg, Piper and Finley Jannetto, and Annabelle, Lillian and Addison Ledbetter. She will also be missed by several loving Ashworth and Hillman descendants, former friends and devoted students. She was predeceased by her mother Edith, her father Rolfe and her two brothers Bill and Louis. A celebration of her life will be set at a later date. In lieu of flowers donations in her name may be made to the First Baptist Church of Ithaca, WSKG, Christian Appalachian Project, or the Ashworth-Hillman Scholarship Fund at Emory & Henry College.
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