July 13, 1931 - July 17, 2021
Thomas Sodeman was born in Salem on July 13, 1931, and passed away on July 17, 2021 at home, just after his 90th birthday. If anyone ever asked (or even if they didn't), he always said, "I've led a good life and am ready to go when the time comes." Tom was preceded by his parents William Sodeman, Caroline DeSaussure Sodeman and four siblings.
Tom graduated from Salem High in the spring of 1950 and enlisted in the Marines in November that same year. He served three years, earning an honorable discharge after serving his country during the Korean War. Semper Fi!
On February 9, 1951, Tom married Betty Stettler after dating her for two years in high school. She still remembers him riding his bike over to her house to ask her out for a movie date. They celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary in 2021, having started married life in Camp Pendleton, California while he was still in the Marines. In 1954 upon discharge from the Marines, the family moved back to Salem, and have lived in their only home for 65 years.
Tom was the proud and loving father of his two children, Connie Sodeman Ouska and David Sodeman.
Tom's one and only job was for Blue Lake Packers/Agripac retiring in 1990, after 36 years. In his spare time, he volunteered with the Marion County Fire Department for 15 years, becoming Captain of the Middle Grove Station. Tom participated in the Neighborhood Watch program for 12 years, and for 57 years he was a member of the Elks. At home Tom enjoyed grilling chicken, which he was an expert at, on the backyard patio.
A lifelong lover of baseball and a talented pitcher, Tom was offered a chance to play with the Giants at age 16. He fulfilled his love of the sport by volunteering to coach Little League for many years. He was also an avid sports spectator, faithfully following baseball, cheering on the New York Yankees then turning his attention to the Portland Trail Blazers when basketball was in season.
Aside from his high school sweetheart Betty and his family, Tom had two other passions in his lifetime. Number one was his 1988 vintage Ford pickup. For Tom, there was only ONE kind of pickup, and it was spelled “F O R D.” Tom's other passion entered his life seven years ago. Fortunately, Betty did not object to the raven-haired, green-eyed beauty with the slanting cat's eyes. It took Tom several weeks of coaxing to convince the feral cat to come into the house, but since then "Meow" has taken up residence on either Tom's or Betty's lap unless it's "ice cream" Friday night when she leaps off her current perch so she can enjoy her weekly treat.
For many years Tom and Betty enjoyed traveling in their RV. In Oregon their favorite destinations were the Oregon coast and Lake Billy Chinook. For 14 years they were snow-birds to Parker, Arizona to relax and visit with their RV friends.
Ninety years is a good, long time. But for those of us he left behind, his wife, his children, six grandchildren and six great grandchildren, it was still not quite enough time to enjoy, love, and laugh with this brave Marine, firefighter, and devoted sports fan.
There will be a memorial service with military honors at Redeemer Lutheran Church, 4633 Lancaster Dr NE Salem, on Saturday, July 24th at 5:00 pm. Donations in Tom's name may be made to Marion County Volunteer Fire Fighters, 3800 Cordon Rd. NE Salem OR 97305, to be used for their yearly toy drive.
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