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home : arts & entertainment : arts & entertainment June 24, 2016

4/22/2014 1:39:00 PM
Sokol will be 2014 Rodeo Grand Marshal
Dorro Sokol has been part of the Sisters Rodeo since she arrived here to take up ranching at Pine Meadow Ranch. photo by Gary Miller
+ click to enlarge
Dorro Sokol has been part of the Sisters Rodeo since she arrived here to take up ranching at Pine Meadow Ranch. photo by Gary Miller

Dorro Sokol rode in the Santa Barbara Fiesta Parade in the mid-1940s. photo provided
+ click to enlarge
Dorro Sokol rode in the Santa Barbara Fiesta Parade in the mid-1940s. photo provided

Dorro Sokol, a lifelong rancher, will be the Grand Marshal of the 2014 Sisters Rodeo Parade. Sokol represents the lifestyle of rodeo's ranching roots and has a long history in Sisters Country.

A member of Sisters Rodeo Association since she moved to Sisters in 1971, Sokol has been an influential community-member who has watched a town of about 400 residents grow into the thriving, diversified small city it has become.

"People ask me if I'm not disappointed in the growth of this once-quiet little town," Sokol expressed, "but the caliber of people who have moved in is quite extraordinary. I have enjoyed them coming here."

The owner of Pine Meadow Ranch, Sokol tried cattle ranching on her 320 acres, but soon learned that the former mint farm was "not a good environment for raising cattle." There was no protection from the chill and winds. Winds leveled one of her hay barns and 39 pine trees in two different storms. So, Sokol revamped the ranch to grow hay. Near the turn of this century, she converted 70 acres within the urban growth boundary into the attractive Pine Meadow Village.

Sokol began herding horses on her Shetland pony at the age of 4 on her family's ranch in San Paula, California, east of Santa Barbara. She graduated from Stanford University with a degree in physical therapy, working in that career while her husband, Don, matriculated Stanford Law School.

The couple had ranching in their blood, so they moved a young family to the historic Oxbow Ranch in Prairie City, Oregon, where their four children learned to herd cattle on Shetland ponies, descendents of their mother's ponies. They had 2,000 cattle on 16,000 deeded acres, and 140,000 total acres with leases of public lands.

Every summer, they herded cattle 20 miles to summer range. In one roundup, their driver, who was assigned to haul the riders and horses home, "didn't show up. He got lost. We spent 21 hours in the saddle that day, riding all the way home."

Her physical therapy degree came in handy on the cattle ranch, where she applied that knowledge in inventing a splint for newborn calves that had hip dysplasia.

"I used Coke bottles as splints," she explained, "tractioning the hind legs into a stretch that helped them stand and nurse. Otherwise, they'd have died."

She proudly states that this is a standard of veterinary medicine today, with casting replacing Coke bottles.

While she raised four children (Eva, Doug, Cris and Mary), Sokol also herded and branded cattle, vaccinated, pulled calves and did C-section deliveries along with haying.

Her husband was a pilot, having served in the Army Air Corps. When the Sokols decided to move to the Oxbow, an airplane made the civilized world accessible. If they were going to be in an airplane, she told him, she wanted to know how to get it down, so she earned her pilots license, too.

The family flew to Bend for medical and dental services and to shop in Wetles Clothing Store in downtown Bend. When Mt. Bachelor Ski Area was about three years old, they began flying the kids there to ski. They flew to Baja, "where there wasn't yet a road," to Canada, and even the Bahamas. They traveled all over the West.

She speaks fondly of the airplanes she has owned: a Comanche, a Travel Air, and her prize, a Beechcraft twin--engine Bonanza, which is now in an air museum in Nampa, Idaho. She flew her plane for the last time when she was 85 years old.

When the marriage ended, Sokol purchased the acreage in Sisters.

"I had been friends with Dorothy and Harold Barclay for many years, a friendship that developed because we were all pilots. My daughter, Eva, stayed with the Barclays during Sisters Rodeo, when she was the Grant County Rodeo Queen. The decision to buy some land and relocate here with 20 cows was easy." It fit her ranching life. "I've never wanted to live in a town. I like ranching and everything about that life."

Sokol became a member of Women's Oregon Trail Riders in the late 1960s, riding all over Oregon and in Idaho, Montana, Nevada and Northern California. She rode the last time with that group in her late 70s.

"I quit riding and began hiking," she said. "I didn't want to haul long distances or ride someone else's horse."

Her hiking began with the COCC adult classes offered in Sisters in the 1980s. "I sure miss those," she added, "but when the classes ended, we started our own hiking group."

In Sisters, she served on the Sisters Planning Commission for 10 years as the out-of-town commissioner. She was also a member of Bend Rotary Club, until she became a charter member of Sisters Rotary Club in 1990. She served as Sisters Rotary president in 2001-2002.

It would be difficult to enhance the life experiences of a woman like Dorro Sokol, but she did that very thing with a journey to Antarctica in the late 1980s.

"Stanford University offered this tour, and I got very excited. I had to go. That two weeks was a highlight of my life."

She has done 10 Stanford University expeditions, traveling mostly in developing countries.

Sokol is a dedicated sponsor of the High Desert Museum, Sisters Folk Festival, Sisters Rotary, Deschutes River Conservancy and the Oregon Community Foundation. Her history with Sisters Rodeo began at the original site of the rodeo, which was where Hoyt's Hardware is now located.

"I am honored and delighted to serve as the rodeo's grand marshal," Sokol said.

When her selection was announced, she was speechless, a rare occurrence for this modern pioneer woman, who speaks her opinion and lives an eclectic life that sprawls from horizon to horizon.

Sisters Rodeo begins June 11 with Xtreme Bulls followed by four rodeo performances June 13-15.

For tickets and information, call the ticket hotline at 541-549-0121 or 1-800-827-7522, or visit the ticket office at 220 W. Cascade Ave. in Sisters. For information visit

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