FALCONER – Sandra Sopak, former Chautauqua County Clerk, changed the face of public service at the county level and strengthened the voice of women in public service at the local level.
That’s the take of current County Clerk Larry Barmore, who talked with WNYNewsNow about Sopak’s legacy after she died Friday in her Falconer Home. Sopak was only the third woman to serve as clerk since 1811 and held her post for 20 years, after serving as Town of Poland Supervisor.
Barmore said Sopak left a large imprint on the office, including digitizing records dating back about 100 years.
“She started digitizing our records, which she started 10 years before I got here,” Barmore said. “She (Sopak) also started getting grants and other money so that we could go back and digitize handwritten records that we already had in the office.”
Modernizing the record keeping system through digitizing saves countless hours of searching, Barmore said.
Only two other women ever held the county clerk post prior to Sopak, and when Barmore decided to run, he said people jokingly wondered how he could serve in the post because he is a man.
Not only did Sopak change the face of local politics, but she also helped Barmore as he sought the position.
“When I decided to run for County Clerk, I bet I came to her office a dozen times and talked with her about what the job was,” said Barmore. “Her endorsement, when I ran, was a big help in getting the people in Chautauqua County to think that they might want to vote for me.”
Sopak is survived by her husband James E. Sopak, three children, five grandchildren, a great-granddaughter and two sisters.
Funeral Services will be at 2 p.m. Wednesday in the Levant Wesleyan Church, 1670 Lindquist Dr., Falconer, NY. Pastor Al Meyers will officiate. Burial will be in Levant Cemetery. Friends will be received by the family from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday in the Falconer Funeral Home.