Leonard Clarence ‘Gary’ Soderberg of Rimbey, Alberta passed away at the Rimbey Hospital and Care Centre on Saturday, November 9, 2019 at the age of 77 years. Gary was born in Rimbey on February 26, 1942.
The following was written by Gary, himself:
"Lived in Iola area for first year. Then moved to Red Deer with my younger sister, Gail and my parents, Clarence and Hazel Soderberg in 1943. Grew up in, and took my schooling in Red Deer, Alberta. Grades 1 and 2 at Old North Red Deer School, Grades 3 to 7 at Central School, Red Deer, Grades 8 and 9 at River Glen High School, high school at Lindsey Thurber Composite High School. I then left after two semesters in Grade 10 to commence my working career. I completed my grade 12 GED in 1987, and had the pleasure of sharing the same graduation year as my daughter.
I did a lot of odd jobs when I was a kid trying to earn a buck. At nine years old, I sold newspapers on the street, then became a rink rat at the arena for a while. I worked as an usher at three movie theaters. I worked for the D.P.W. at P.T.S. (now Michener Centre) as a laborer, then got on as a ward attendant at D.T.S. and Deerhome. After leaving Deerhome, I worked at many jobs: pump jockey, beer parlor waiter, taxi driver, with my dad on the farm, doing house construction and renovations. I earned my credentials as an insurance adjuster, but didn’t pursue the field. I’ve spent time in the “oil patch” working on service rigs. I then got on as jail guard at Bowden Institute, juvenile section (one of my best jobs ever). From there, due to some life circumstances and an opportunity that arose, I began working in the mine at Pine Point, N.W.T. It was here that my love for “big” mining trucks, loaders, cats, etc. took hold.
After a couple of years, I moved down to Smithers, B.C. where I got a job with the B.C. Forest Service, Engineering and Maintenance, as a janitor/laborer. That transitioned into equipment operator and then to Jr. Road Foreman. At this time, the Forestry phased out Engineering and Maintenance and starting contracting out the work. At that time, I moved over to the town of Smithers as an equipment operator. This, however, didn't last too long as ambition got in the way. I had gotten married to Mary Schenk and started a small family ... shortly after, we moved to Telkwa, B.C. I bought a logging truck and hauled logs for the West Fraser Mill in Smithers. After a few years, I sold the truck and our home in Telkwa, B.C. From here we moved to Grand Forks, B.C. I got on with the Highways Department driving snowplows/sanding truck for the winter. Then in the spring of 1980, a business opportunity came along and we ended up in the pub business at a little place called Wasa, B.C. We had some tough times for a bit, but got through them. But unfortunately, a family split forced the sale of the pub in late 1983. It was one of the best, most fun, hardest working jobs I had, but I loved it.
From there I odd-jobbed it, driving gravel truck, etc. for a couple years. I then got on with the Department of Highways in Cranbrook, as plow/sander truck driver, etc. This lasted to early 1989, when I got a chance to go back to mining at Tumbler Ridge, B.C. I worked there until 1992, when I was laid off and returned to Rimbey, AB. Here I began working for two different contractors in the oilfield business, operating dozers and hoes till January, 1995. Then I was called back to Tumbler Ridge and worked till the shutdown until early '98. From there I moved down to Winfield, AB and bought a home. In 1999, I went to work for a private contractor in Fort McMurray, AB driving haul trucks and dozers at Syncrude. I then got the chance to get on at Suncor as an equipment operator. I worked here until late 2003 when torn shoulder ligaments and muscles forced me onto long-term disability. I wasn’t able to return to work and I retired officially in 2007. I spent my time at home in Winfield. My original home was lost in a devastating fire in 2001, while I was away in Fort McMurray. We bounced back with a new 16 x 76 manufactured home, and this I shared with my special gal-pal, Maudie for many years. Around this time, I was fortunate to connect with my son, Mark, thanks to my daughter’s assistance. Due to my increasing health challenges (I beat lung cancer x2), Maudie had to relocate to Lacombe and I had to sell my Winfield home. I bought a motorhome and spent the winter of 2013-14 touring Vancouver Island, a lifelong dream on my bucket list. I never got to the East Coast or Alaska as I wished I could have, as continued failing health forced me into this old folks home here in Rimbey.
My love of music was ignited when my mother gave me an old “Stella” guitar when I was about 14. I learned a few chords and played along with my sister, Gail on her accordion. I had always loved music, all kinds, but leaned to old time/country and western, old time rock and roll. I had played with several different groups/people, etc. since I was a teenager, and ended up forming an old time dance band (The Midnight Ramblers) while in Smithers. We all became great friends and shared many good times. We became quite popular and played a pile of wedding dances, service clubs, rodeos, hotels, fall fairs, etc. We played together for about 6-7 years. Unfortunately, the band broke up when I left the Bulkley Valley.
While in Wasa, I continued pursuing my love of music and set up P/A's, amps, keyboards, etc. at our pub and played there myself, and often invited fellow musicians to drop in and play along. It was a great time! I also used to play solo at times in some of the other pubs and hotels in the area. I took a break from playing after selling the pub. I did start playing again a bit after I had moved to Winfield. I played once a month with some locals at the local Legion Branch. All through the years I had been writing songs and poems, and had been writing a lot more from the 80s on up. A chance and offer came up to record some of my songs onto CD. I recorded two CD’s, all my own songs. Some people liked it. This was another bucket list item that I was proud to accomplish. I still have enough new and old songs to fill a couple of more CD's. I don't know if I'll ever get them down on tape, because my hands are so numb I have a hard time playing my guitar. I have a song, special for my daughter, Stacy that I sure want to get recorded. Anyway, it's nap time.”
Gary leaves behind his loving family: one daughter, Stacy Soderberg (Guy Maloney) of Calgary; one son, Mark Stade of Edmonton; and a very special friend and partner, Madeline ‘Maudie’ Hoy of Lacombe. He is also survived by his sister, Gail Nesimiuk of Surrey, B.C.; two nieces and several cousins; as well as many friends, old and new. Gary was predeceased by his parents, Clarence and Hazel Soderberg (Aldrich); and his nephew, Bryan Mitchell.
With respect for Gary’s wishes, no formal funeral service was held. If friends desire, memorial tributes in Gary’s Memory may be made directly to the Canadian Cancer Society, #200, 325 Manning Road N.E., Calgary, Alberta T2E 2P5 (www.cancer.ca). To view the complete obituary that honors Gary’s life, or to leave a condolence message for the family, please visit: www.ofc-ltd.ca
Cremation Arrangements for the Late Leonard Clarence ‘Gary’ Soderberg entrusted to the care of