About 4 years ago now they combined a couple of the wards in our stake and took the ward that I had lived in and combined it with the ward that Lee lived in and that was a bit of a fun time. Our first Sunday as a new combined ward I came in and one of the first people I met was Brother Lee, and with his dry wit and humor it took me a little bit to realize that he was joking with me. Because when you first meet him you don’t realize that he’s a funny guy. It took me a few times of talking with him and getting to know him to realize that most of what he said was humorous and a joke in one way or another and I liked that about Lee. I agree whole heartedly with a lot of the things that have been said.
When I was first called as Bishop a few years ago one of the things we liked to do was go out and visit with people. We’ve got a lot of people in our ward, so it took a while to get to the Soderborgs, but I think it was about a year ago now that we came and had a good conversation in the living room with Lee and Karen, and that’s when I first heard the elephant story. I agree whole heartedly, he sits in the back of the class and if a yes or no question is asked, he will give a yes or no answer and that’s about as far as it goes.
I am grateful for the time that I had to have a few conversations with Lee. He’s been ill a little bit lately and I had the opportunity to go and visit with him in the hospital a few times. After one stint in the hospital he was in the nursing home for a bit of a time as well, and we as the bishopric went and met with him there. (I don’t know if Karen ever knew that, but we did go and visit with him while he was in the care center.) No matter how much he was hurting, or if he was hurting, he didn’t show it. He was concerned about others, he asked about the state of others, and he wanted to take the attention off of himself and put it on other people. And that’s the way that Lee was.
I know that one of Lee’s callings, at least that we left him in, was as a Ward Missionary and I got the impression that he loved that calling, and loved going out and visiting people when he was able to do that. That was expressed in what I heard from everybody is that he loved sharing the Gospel with others. He knew the Gospel. One of the things I said the Karen the other day when I met with the family is that they were sealed in the temple, they were sealed as a family, and that sealing lasts beyond this life, it lasts into eternity; and they know that, and I share that with you; they’re golden.
Scriptures have been shared from Alma and Amulek and those that talked about the state of the soul between death and the resurrection and that’s where Lee’s at right now; he’s in paradise where he can relax and be free from the cares and tribulations he went through in life, and he can be there to help his family to go through the things they’re going through.
I believe that one day he’ll, as well as all of us, will be resurrected. Whatever pains he went through in this life he will no longer have them. he no longer has them. The scripture says that “every limb and joint shall be restored to its body; even a hair of the head shall not be lost;” I don’t know if they allow beards in heaven? But if they do, I’ll assume he has that too.
I had the opportunity last night during the viewing the be out in the foyer and I saw the video of all the pictures and I think I saw one or two without a beard, but all the rest had a beard, that’ll be his trademark.
I’ll just share my testimony with you that I’m grateful for our Savior, I’m grateful for the Atonement, I’m grateful for the knowledge I have that He was resurrected. I testify that we all, including Lee, will one day be resurrected as a free gift from our Father in Heaven, that we will be together again and that we’ll be with friends and with neighbors and that we will have that opportunity to joke around with Lee again. I testify that families are forever. I testify that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ we have the opportunity, even with the mistakes we make in our life, we have the opportunity to repent and to clean our lives and to live forever with our families and with our Heavenly Father, hopefully all together in the Celestial Kingdom. I testify to that; I testify of our Savior; I testify that it is through Him that we have all of these gifts and these opportunities to be together forever.
I leave my testimony with you in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
It’s a real honor to be asked to speak at the funeral of Lee Soderborg, though I wish I wasn’t at the funeral of Lee Soderborg because I didn’t want him to leave us. I miss him too, and it hasn’t really sunk in that he’s gone. Most of the people here know Lee Soderborg better than I do, so anything I tell you about him, you already know. I’ve loved every story I’ve heard about him, and some of the things I had forgotten. But I have some things that [the other speakers] didn’t mention.
I’m going to tell you the way I saw Lee through my eyes, and maybe the way you saw him is different, but there are a lot of things that are funny and interesting about him that I’m going to talk about.
Lee was friendly to everyone. I never knew him to ever be grouchy or moody, although that probably did happen, I didn’t ever see it happen. He was always cheery when I was around him and he always tried to keep the atmosphere pleasant. He often used humor to help others feel relaxed and enjoy the moment. Whether it was at a social gathering or a meeting or at the checkout counter at the grocery store or at the nurses’ station at in a hospital. I visited a lot of people in the hospital with Lee by my side, and he always tried to get a smile out of the people he just met by being appropriately familiar with them and making jokes. He even tried to get a smile out of the patients when we left.
Lee’s sense of humor, as you know, was not run-of-the-mill. I like to think that he “thought outside the box” but it wasn’t the same box you and I think outside of. In fact, I would really like to take a peak at the orientation Lee went through when he left this life and see how he handled it; and I’d like to see how they handled receiving him.
When Lee left the hospital patient after a visit, he would say “Thanks for being sick so we have the privilege of coming visit you!” And if I had the privilege of being the receptionist in the spirit world I would have said “Thanks for dying, Lee, so that I could come here to welcome you to this new world!” Maybe he’ll be the one to greet me, and that will be exactly what I’ll hear? And I’m sure if I had done that, he would have laughed heartily and enjoyed the moment.
Some years ago, the Soderborg family lost their son and brother, Alex. He was my home teaching companion for years; I know all about the elephant story because he took it to our families and told them. I was asked to sit down with the family and help them plan a funeral and to conduct that funeral later on, and I noted during that hour that Lee continued to make humorous remarks in spite of the solemnity of the occasion and the usual mood that prevails in a case like that. I didn’t say anything, but some years later I asked him “why did you do that, Lee?” I wasn’t challenging him, I just knew he would give me an honest answer. I thought I knew what the answer would be, and I was right: he said he was just trying to keep him and his family from crashing emotionally. I guess it worked. I was with him a lot during that time. We all knew on that occasion that we professed to believe that our separation of death is only temporary and it was clear that none of us wanted to sink in despair and Lee lead out by making us smile now and then with his outside-the-box sense of humor.
A few years ago we lost a grandson who was aged 12. I thought about Alex at that time. The primary in our grandson’s ward asked the children to write a note of comfort to the family. One child wrote: “families are forever is what you’re doing right now.” I reminded my grandson’s mother last night on the phone of that statement and she said that’s profound. He was saying, very simply, that we often talk about the doctrine that families are forever but right now the talk is over and here is where the rubber meets the road; we believe it and now is the time to cling to it and take comfort in this precious truth.
The Soderborg family did cling to that truth at Alex’s passing and they need to do so again now. It won’t be hard, it’s ingrained deep into their hearts.
The Soderborg family was always one we could count on for service. I was in the bishopric for nearly 11 years and I was usually quite aware if who did what; Lee always showed up with his family when there were service projects, and they they didn’t always wait for a project to be organized to do service. One time just before a meeting that Lee and I were in, during our chitchat I mentioned that I was moving a wall in my basement, and that’s about all I said. The next day, on Monday, in the evening Lee shows up at my door with his three sons and said “We want to help, what can we do?” and I did in fact put them to work.
I’ve never forgotten that that is the kind of heart that Lee had; and he didn’t just have it on that occasion. There were times during those years when I set out to troubleshoot some situation in the ward having to do with a furnace, or a washer, or a car, or a plumbing problem and Lee was always willing to come and help me. He sacrificed a lot of his time (I’m sorry I took him away from the family) many times at my bidding. I’ll never forget his willingness and neither will the Lord.
We just sang a song that ends saying “doing good is a pleasure, a joy beyond measure, a blessing of duty and love.” I suppose Lee did a lot of things out of duty, but when he served people, I think he did it out of love. He’s one of those people who got beyond the duty stage and I haven’t gotten there yet.
I liked to banter with Lee; maybe that’s why we liked each other so much. I told Lee numerous times that I wanted to see his face, just once, shaven. I told him that I was determined to figure out a way to get him to shave; he chuckled and “said it’s not gonna happen.” So his kids overheard our conversation one day and they dug out a photo of Lee without his beard, and it was standing on the steps of the Manti Temple (I have a picture of me and Sherri standing on that exact piece of concrete right after we got married; I thought that was an interesting coincidence.) You know his kids couldn’t remember what he looked like without his beard either because they were so young when he decided it was a permanent fixture, so they had to get that picture out to show me, and I appreciate that. One day, as the bishop, I received a letter from the temple presidency asking me to submit some names of people in my ward who might possibly be able to become temple workers; so I dutifully wrote out a list of a few people and Lee came to mind, I thought he would be a good choice, and I put his name on that list and sent it back to the temple, and just forgot about it. One day I was sitting in my office with the door open and suddenly there is Lee standing in the door frame and when he finally got my attention he said “You have a sick sense of humor!” and my mind started racing thinking “what in the world prompted him to say something like that?” and in just a few moments I realized what it was: he had been to the temple for his interview, he was called to be a temple worker and informed that the beard had to come off. I really didn’t plan it that way, but it was one of my most satisfying moments.
Lee always insisted in sitting in the back row, I don’t know how Karen felt about it, but it didn’t matter, he’d sit in the back row. When he was one of my assistants in the High Priest Group we decided that we had a few rows of chairs and people scattered all over the place, and I said “let’s do it differently; let’s line the chair up on the wall, and the back wall, and the side wall, and we’ll all be able to see each other and hear each other, and it’ll improve things.” So that’s what we did, and Lee was uncomfortable about that because he’d be on the front row! I said “Lee, but you’re also on the back row!” and that seemed to placate him a little bit. And that’s what we did from then on.
I remember numerous times in Sunday School classes when someone would ask a yes/no question and Lee, sitting on the back row would raise his hand, like he had something he wanted to say about that (it was a yes/no question, you know) so they’d call on him and he would say “yes” and then there was silence. And they’ would say “did you want to say something about it?” and he said “no, I was just answering your questions.”
I knew someone once that got kind of offended at something that Lee had said and I said “oh my gosh, you don’t know Lee do you? If you got to know Lee, and once you do you’ll be fine with anything he says.”
In our Church we have a practice of allowing members to come forward to the front of the chapel once a month to to express their feelings about the Gospel, about the Restoration, about the Book of Mormon, about their family, and about God, and we call it bearing a testimony. As many of you know, you didn’t have to wait for that occasion to see how Lee felt about these things. You could see it in his daily life and his interactions with others.
Lee had the opportunity to teach a lot. As he expressed these sacred and beautiful truths on many occasions he became emotional; he had a way of coughing and clearing his throat to cover up those feelings trying to break out, but I knew what he was feeling, and I was feeling the same thing (I can identify with those feeling, although I don’t know how to cover them up.)
I knew that he treasured the truths that he was teaching. So what are those truths? To start with: Father in Heaven and His Son Jesus Christ are real, exalted being who love us beyond anything we mortals can comprehend. They’re ready and eager to accept our repentance and whole heartedly forgive us and heal us and lift us up as we set out on the forward path. Lee knew that and I know it as well.
Secondly: heaven is a place of perfect order and rule of law; so entering there requires us to comply with law and order. But love is the supreme power behind it all; hence the first commandment is to love God and the second, like unto the first, is to love our neighbor as ourselves. Lee knew both of those principles and tried to be obedient and tried to love his neighbor as himself. Truthfully I never felt any selfishness from Lee, only his caring and willingness to serve and obey.
Third: families can be together forever. Lee’s top priority was to have an eternal family, through obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel and ultimately the law and ordinances of the temple. I spent a lot of time in the temple with Lee and his wife. I’ve been talking about Lee this whole time, you know Karen is like Lee in all of those regards as well. Lee didn’t just hope it was true, his conduct showed that he fully embraced that it was true. He had every confidence, like I do, that Joseph Smith was actually visited and instructed by Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ, and that his subsequent experiences and revelations happened as he said they did. Lee believed the Book of Mormon to be the Word of God, as I do. He believed the true priesthood of God is on this earth and in this Church with all of its proper keys, as I do. He believed that the President of the Church and the Quorum of the Twelve have the keys to be spokesmen for God in their several roles, as I do. Lee believed there is a life after death, and a plan in place to give every single one of God’s children the opportunity to have the greatest joy possible in eternity. He and I fully anticipate being reunited with those we knew and loved in this life, and that the day will come when the power Christ used to rise from the dead will be exercised on our behalf to raise us from death through the resurrection; to be whole and happy in that sphere that we have qualified for through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
My council to Lee’s family may seem superfluous because I think they all understand it already but that would be: never forget what your father taught you, and the example he set for you. If he had imperfections, and I suppose he did, overlook them and remember those sacred truths because they will be the very key to your happiness in this life and in eternity.
I look forward to seeing Lee again. I don’t know how much time he’ll have to figure out what wisecrack to make, but I’m going to think about it cause I’m gonna be prepared with a comeback. I love him and I love the fact that he moved into our ward and that I ever knew him.
And I say those things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Writing a talk is hard, so I decided to write a song for my dad instead; it goes: “This is our Daddy Song. It isn’t very long.”
If dad were here he would start by telling us about “Life as it is” for 65 years dad saw life as it is; joy, laughter, and happiness beyond belief. As he loved to say it’s “unbelievable”. Of course there was pain, misery, and cruelty beyond belief as well; we live in a fallen world. But more importantly, there is healing and peace because of our Savior Jesus Christ. Dad knew that and he loved sharing it with people.
Very few days went by when he wasn’t asking our opinions about some Gospel principle he was pondering for an upcoming lesson. He loved to visit people and share messages about the Gospel. His favorite way to share Gospel truths was through parables, like the parable he wrote that started “many are cold, but few are frozen.” Or his elephant collection, which started with the parable of the blind men and the elephant.
Before coming to this earth, dad must have been one of the noble and great ones. His testimony of the Gospel was unshakable. He lived what James referred to as pure religion to “visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction“
In every calling dad had mom was right by his side. They were home teaching companions for most of their marriage. Their relationship was important to them, and they had a date night scheduled for every Friday.
Mom and dad summarized their courtship with the phrase: “We Wrote. We Met. We Married.” My mom had been writing one of my dad’s mission companions who gave my dad her address. Dad wrote her a letter and they started writing somewhat regularly. Then after my dad returned from his mission, he ended up as mom’s home teacher. They dated for a while until one day they pedaled up to the zoo on bikes. After pedaling over to This Is The Place monument my dad presented my mom with a 1-carrot ring (made from a real live carrot). They were married in the Manti Temple on October 18th 1980; the covenants they made there give us the assurance that we can be a family forever.
When we were babies dad would bounce us on his knee and shake our hand vigorously in all directions. Knowing that we could only see 9 inches in front of our face, he would walk around the house showing us things, and using his hand to measure 9 inches from each object he showed us. When he ran out of his own babies to hold, dad often borrow babies from others at church. He was tickled pink when he finally got grandchildren of his own and became “Grand Daddy Dearest.”
As children dad involved us in everything he did. If he was working on cleaning an ice cream machine, he would ask us to stir the ice cream mixture in the bucket or put our ear to the machine and tell him when it cycled off. We learned to clean refrigerators to help him with his business. He would cart the whole family along when someone was moving, so we could carry boxes in a bucket brigade, while he helped move the heavy furniture. Or he would line us up on the sidewalk with snow shovels and have us shovel the sidewalks all up and down the street.
Our family song was “Have I Done Any Good In The World Today?” and dad’s life was an example of that song in action. Even when he was too sick to walk by himself, he would ask if there was anything he could do to help, without actually getting involved?
We learned about hard work through dad’s example. When we were young we were often eager to help, but as we got older, dad related to the comic that said “there is nothing like a family project to get a little bit of alone time.”
As we became teenagers dad got the notion in his head that he wanted our house to be a “hanging out house.” It started out meaning that our friends liked to hang out there but it ended up meaning that we had pictures and replicas of outhouses hanging on the walls. Luckily my friends did enjoy hanging out at our house. Every time they would come over dad would ask them their names and their favorite colors; he never remembered them from one time to the next, but to be fair, they never told him the same the same color twice in a row either. Once every person in the room claimed their favorite color was yellow just to mess with him.
Dad cared deeply about our education and expected us to do well in school. If we made the mistake of telling him we didn’t have homework, he told us to go up to our teacher and say “it’s my right to have homework!” (we never did.) Both my parents attended every parent teacher conference for every one of their six children. Even when we were all in high school they personally visited upwards of 30 teachers at parent conferences; afterwards they would sit us down individually and tell us what our teachers said about us. My dad himself had numerous technical degrees from the community college and all of his living children now have college degrees.
Once most of us had grown up and moved away dad was always anxious to hear about our lives. He’d say “How can I live vicariously through you if you don’t tell me what’s going on in your life?” His favorite time of day to communicate was the middle of the night.
Dad also wanted us to be self reliant as adults. He taught us to cook for ourselves, mow the lawn, change a tire, etc. We didn’t know how often the skill of changing a tire would come in handy until we lost every single tire on the van during a road trip to Kansas.
Traditions were also important to dad. He believed strongly in Gospel traditions like Family Home Evening and Family Councils. Like Tevye in The Fiddler on the Roof he taught that “because of our traditions that everyone knows who he is and what God expects him to do.” At our house if you did something at least three times, even if it was by accident, it became a tradition. One tradition that made dad famous was hanging the Christmas tree from the ceiling so the children wouldn’t knock it over. On our birthdays we would get money wrapped in color coded duct-tape, either as coin necklaces or sequential bills in a duct-taped envelope. Dad was most pleased with himself when we couldn’t get them open; he thought it would make the money last longer.
I wish I had enough time to tell about family road-trips, hiking excursions, favorite movie quotes, dad breaking out into song, and all the other memories that remind us how much dad loved life and family.
After a faithful life of service and testimony dad has now joined loving family members that are waiting for him in the spirit world. We miss dad. But we’re grateful to know that he is finally pain-free. And that because of Jesus Christ he will one day be resurrected and receive a perfect, glorified body. Hopefully they let him wear a beard.
In the spirit world, dad gets to continue the work of preaching the Gospel, which he loved so much in this life. We’re grateful for the knowledge that we’ll see him again. And we are thankful for his legacy of humor, service, and testimony.
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.
Murray City Cemetery 5490 South Vince Street — Murray, Utah
Dedication of the Grave
Brian Soderborg (son)
Honorary Casket Bearers
Brian Soderborg (son) Cody Soderborg (son) Russ Kirkham (son-in-law) Mark Soderborg (brother) Martin Vander Veur (brother-in-law) Ken Dawson (brother-in-law) Robb Cundick (brother-in-law) Dan Roberts (brother-in-law)
Josua Willis (grandson) Daniel Willis (grandson) Spencer Soderborg (grandson) Luke Soderborg (grandson) Ethan Soderborg (grandson) Eric Soderborg (brother)