Betty Johnson Soderlind
born July 30, 1919 – died November 21, 2014
A funeral service will be held for Betty Soderlind, 95, at St. Anne’s Catholic Church on Saturday, Nov. 29, at 11:00a.m. Betty passed away on November 21 at her home in Forks. She was born July 30, 1919 in DeSart, North Dakota to Erskine and Bessie (DeSart) Johnson. Her parents were homesteaders. Betty was one of three children and farm life was harsh. No running water, electricity or in-door plumbing. At age 5, Betty started helping in the kitchen, standing on a box to knead the bread dough. She carried water from the well, cooked meals, worked in the wheat fields, anything her parents asked of her.
She attended a one-room school through 8th grade. She walked to school during the fall and spring, but in the winter when the temperatures dipped to 40 degrees below she was taken by horse-drawn sled.Her mother heated bricks to put under the quilt to keep her warm. Betty did well in school and in 4th grade won a prize for her recitation of Lord Tennyson’s poem, “Crossing the Bar”.
Betty graduated from St. Mary’s Catholic High School in 1938. Her family wasn’t Catholic or even religious but her parents decided to send her to the local Catholic high school after her father witnessed the girls at the public high school participating in gym class wearing knee-length shorts! Betty was determined not to allow the nuns to convert her and she said they didn’t even try. But at age 17, Betty had a spiritual experience and joyfully joined the Catholic Church. Betty’s strong Catholic faith has been the greatest influence in her life. She instilled that faith in her husband, children and many others.
In 1939 Betty traveled across the state to Fargo, North Dakota to attend St. John’s Hospital School of Nursing. Each day she worked 8 hours in the hospital and then took classes for 2-4 hours. She graduated as a registered nurse in 1942.
In 1945 she joined her mother and siblings in Vancouver, WA. She worked at the Veteran’s Hospital and one of her patients was Lawrence Soderlind. They married in 1949 and began their married life in Forks, WA. Lawrence worked as a log truck driver and Betty began raising their seven children. Betty was an amazing mother and loved her children dearly. She made each child feel loved and wanted the very best for each one.
Besides caring for her children, Betty was also active in the community, especially the church. She helped organize the Marion Club and taught religious education for children and adults. She and Lawrence helped build the first Catholic Church in Forks in 1951; they were also involved in building the existing church in 1971. Betty was a moving force in the community. She truly walked the walk of her catholic faith. She taught people to read, visited people in jail, ministered to the immigrants, and was president of the Forks Food Bank She was kind and compassionate to everyone and always generous with her time and talents. She was loved and admired by many people. She is survived and greatly missed by her seven children: David Soderlind (Toni Willbanks), Mary (Tim) Haley, John (Mary) Soderlind, Mark (Pat) Soderlind, Allison (John) White, Ann Desart, Dan (Lornell) Soderlind; 20 Grand Children, and 15 Great-Grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her husband, Lawrence, her parents, her brother, George and her sister, Phyllis.
Memorial contributions can be made to the Forks Food Bank (P.O. Box 2532, Forks, WA 98331) and the St. Anne Catholic Church Building Fund.