Dear brothers and sisters and family and friends, the reason I’m saying “dear brothers and sisters” is because I’ve been asked to represent the siblings, Lee’s siblings, and so quite literally I hope that my brothers and sisters appreciate what I was able to put together.
I am two years older than Lee. As youths we shared a lot of things: we slept in the same bedroom; we shared a paper route; we rode our bikes downtown together to work at Dad’s store. Another thing we shared as middle children in a large family was the belief that we were left out of a lot of the fun things that Mom and Dad with the older three girls and then with the younger two; the ones in the middle just got left out.
Something else we did a lot of was fight. Now, I guess all brothers probably fight; I would imagine that I wasn’t a real good brother some of that time. In recent years though, I’ve tried to do better; I’ve tried to be more understanding; to repent and figure out why we do things differently. I’m not really accustomed to talking a lot so when I go to visit Lee, I would usually sit and he would talk and I would listen. Our father once said that “Lee just marches to the beat of a different drummer” that’s why we’re all different.
I found that Lee and I still do many of the same things, just not for the same reason, or not in the same way. For example: we both wear a beard. You may have noticed that Lee wore a beard because it meant he didn’t have to shave; I wear a beard because my wife says it makes me more handsome. We both put up trees at Christmas time, I usually put mine on a stand on the floor; Lee sometimes hangs his from the ceiling. We just do things differently sometimes.
As I’ve talked to my other siblings to find out some feelings that they have, I found out that we have a lot of the same memories and perceptions of Lee. Lee loved family traditions. He made a special point of attending every family reunion, every wedding reception, every funeral; it didn’t matter if it was a long drive, he still made a point of attending.
One of those family traditions is a Labor Day celebration all the siblings and their families and basically all those who’ve descended from us meet together in Big Cottonwood Canyon at the same campsite for breakfast. Now the original purpose for this gathering was to celebrate the birthday of the oldest grandchild, who is Barry Vander Veur, but soon Lee started referring to it as “the Barry Doo” and I don’t think that was universally accepted by the whole family, but I think his family probably still refers to it as “the Barry Doo”.
At that occasion, tradition was that he would bring a big cooler full of drinks; and it would have his favorites, which are whole milk and orange juice, and he used to love soda pop. Anyway, it was whole milk it wasn’t fat-reduced (that wasn’t an option with Lee). He did cut back on soda pop after a while, but while I was there visiting with him this past year, one of the home health nurses came in to check on him and she saw a can of pop on the table and said “Lee! You know you can’t have that sugary stuff! It’ll kill you!” and he said “well…I only had one…” and she said “If you have to have a soft-drink, have a diet soft-drink.” and Lee says “We don’t drink diet soft-drinks in our house.”
Lee has traditions in gift-giving as well. One time I was over there and he had some different colored duct-tape, and he was sticking coins on them. I asked what that was all about and he said it started with his own kids, and he would get different colors of duct-tape (since they all have their own assigned color) and he would stick coins on it and duct-tape over it; and since they all knew their color, they would know who’s present this was by the color of the strip of duct-tape. And all they had to do was figure out how to pry that apart and get the coins out of it.
When I was in high school my dad bought me a little Honda 50 motorcycle that I could take to get to school, since it was too far to walk and not far enough to take the bus. When I went away to college then Lee inherited the Honda. It was not in great condition; frequently you had to push it and engage the clutch to get it to start. Gayle remembers going with Lee, helping him push that Honda, with him on it, until it was going fast enough so he could engage the transmission and hopefully it would start and ignite. He would go out and circle around and come back to pick her up, and she would try to hop on quickly so that it didn’t stop again and she’d have to push again. She said they would make kind of a game out of it to see how far they could go without actually stopping, so they didn’t have to do that extra push-start.
Kathy characterized Lee as having integrity and being very faithful in the Church. Lee did serve in many different callings in the Church. One of them: he was the Scout Master for many years; Now I don’t know where he got the ability or the nerve to do that; we weren’t brought up to be “outdoorsy” people. (I’m afraid I couldn’t be a scout master.) He told me that he would tell the scouts that he was the Scout Master but they could just call him “master”.
One thing that I found out was a life-changer for Lee was a talk that he heard by A. Theodore Tuttle. Elder Tuttle said that he looked forward to the day when he would not be known as “A Theodore Tuttle” but “The Theodore Tuttle.” And from that point on Lee wanted to be known not as “A Lee Soderborg” but as “The Lee Soderborg.” I think he succeeded.
Lee enjoyed learning about the Gospel and teaching it. I was helping him go through a big pile of papers and handwritten notes that were outlines of talks and lessons that he’d given over the years, and he just didn’t want to throw those away (some of them were just little scraps of paper) because they might be of use in the future, and he’d gone to all that trouble and he wanted to keep them
The Gospel is important to Lee and he taught his children to be faithful members of the Church. I’m sure that he taught them the great truths about death and resurrection: how death is just a part of a transition from this life to a more glorious one, if we live the commandments taught in the scriptures and by the holy prophets.
He loves his children, Lee did. He confided in me once that he was afraid that he had made some mistakes in how he’d dealt with them; afraid that somehow he had damaged a relationship and didn’t know how to get it fixed. I know how he feels about that too.
The beauty of the Gospel though is that its truths are eternal; love is eternal; forgiveness is eternal; families are forever. The Resurrection is a gift to all men; how we live our lives now will determine what Degree of Glory we will attain after this life. One day, Lee and Karen, and all their kids, will be reunited with perfect bodies that no longer hurt and no longer stop from achieving righteous goals.
The prophet Alma, in the Book of Mormon, taught “that the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body… whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life… the spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise, a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow.” When I think of this scripture, I envision what Uncle Robb said about a wonderful reunion going on with Lee, and his son Alex, and his sister Laurie, and his parents Alvin and Afton. In that paradise reunion, I imagine that Lee is providing the drinks.
I have a testimony the our Father in Heaven loves all of us and He wants us to do what we can to return to live with Him again. I bear you this testimony in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.