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Published: Wednesday, 12/18/2002

Bail bondsman made several bids for office

Harry Sohikian, a well-liked bail bondsman who made many unsuccessful runs for political office in the 1970s, '80s, and '90s, died Sunday in St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center of complications of injuries sustained in a traffic accident last week. He was 88.

Mr. Sohikian's car collided with a pickup truck about 4 p.m. Thursday at Monroe and 12th streets.

For almost 25 years, Mr. Sohikian's name was a familiar one during election cycles, as he sought repeatedly to become Toledo mayor, a member of Toledo City Council, or a state representative.

Mr. Sohikian was irrepressible, always running as an unendorsed Democrat, and never managing to win elective public office.

“It actually got to be not very much fun for the rest of us,” his daughter, Nancy McParland, said. “He ran so many times, but he was always optimistic about his chances.”

Mr. Sohikian's last electoral try was in 1993, when he ran for a district council seat. During his campaign, he advocated assigning more police officers to foot patrol and the parking of decoy police cars in neighborhoods to reduce crime. He wanted to erect 50 flags at SeaGate Centre, “so it will look like a real convention center.”

During a 1975 run for mayor, he mailed crisp new $1 bills to voters with an accompanying note: “We are offering a rather unique approach. Enclosed is $1 as proof of sincerity and that you will get full value for every penny of your tax dollar. Would you match this dollar with one of your own and return both to the Harry Sohikian for Mayor Committee?”

As a bail bondsman, Mr. Sohikian was self-employed, with an office in the Spitzer Building; he also sold surety bonds for estates.

During the work week, he was a daily visitor to Lucas County Common Pleas Court, where he seemed to know everyone, according to Gerrilynn Hatzidakis, an employee in the office of sheriff's deputies assigned to the court.

“I saw Harry every single morning. He was there with a big smile on his face. Everybody knew him and loved him,” Ms. Hatzidakis said.

The son of Armenian immigrants, Mr. Sohikian was born in Watertown, Mass., and moved to Toledo with his family as a young boy.

He grew up in the Old West End and graduated from Warren Elementary and Scott High School. He attended Grinnell College, Grinnell, Iowa, and served in the Army from 1942-47, attaining the rank of 1st lieutenant.

Mr. Sohikian and his wife, Jenny, who died in 1999, were married for 57 years. They were long-time residents of South Toledo.

His memberships included VFW Post 6909, the Old Newsboys Goodfellow Association, the Toledo Museum of Art, and Toastmasters International.

Surviving are his daughters, Nancy McParland and Jan Bertoli; son, Michael; sister, Marge Sherorian; brother, Hike Sohikian, four grandchildren, and a great-grandchild.

A memorial service will be at noon tomorrow in St. Paul's Lutheran Church. Arrangements are by the Birkenkamp-Walter-Hanneman Funeral Home. The family requests tributes to a charity of the donor's choice.

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