William Sorrells was so passionate about Broward County public transportation that one friend affectionately called him “Mr. Transit.”
He was hired as a bus driver in 1972. By the time he retired in 2007, Sorrells had worked his way up to superintendent of safety and training for the department. Even after he retired, he was quick to point out th different kinds of buses on family outings.
Sorrells died Friday at 70. He would have been 71 on July 21.
“I think he knew everyone in the county,” former colleague Bob Dorn Sr. said.
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Dorn, who worked with Sorrells for 22 years, first met him in 1984. He remembers a boss who was always looking to make improvements -- in fact, Sorrells was responsible for adding security cameras to Broward County Transit buses, he said.
“We were one of the first to do that,” he said.
Along with changing policies and procedures, Sorrells also spoke on behalf of the department after bus accidents. His communications role was one reason he became involved with the Toastmasters, a club where members have the opportunity to develop communication skills. If he was going to speak, he wanted to be well-spoken.
Daughter Laura Fusaro remembers him being passionate about working for the transit union. He was never afraid to stand up for what he believed in, she said, and he was argumentative for the right reasons.
But even though he was fiercely dedicated to his work, he made time for other interests. He was a longtime member of a barbershop quartet where he was known for his tenor voice.
“He was always singing a song or humming a tune,” Fusaro said.
He was born in Pennsylvania in 1943, and his family moved to South Florida when he was a child. In 1957, Sorrells was hit by a train and dealt with chronic pain after recovering. Still, it never stopped him.
“He was always going, going, going,” Fusaro said. “He never complained about pain.”
For Sorrells, family was always a priority. He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Lynda, his two daughters, Lynda and Laura, two grandchildren, three brothers, one sister and a sister-in law he raised and multiple nieces and nephews. His mother Lillie Sorrells, a former makeup artist to the stars at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach, died in 2001 at 83. He was also preceded in death by his father Courtney Sorrells.
His family is holding a private service to celebrate his life.