Wink Soderberg walks on at the age of 84
William Joseph “Wink” Soderberg, who served two terms on Tribal Council from 2005 to 2011, walked on Monday, June 25, at the age of 84.
Soderberg was born Dec. 29, 1933, to William Joseph Soderberg Jr. and Clarinda Maxine Quenelle.
According to a 2017 Elders Features that appeared in Smoke Signals, Soderberg was raised in his Grand Ronde Reservation home that did not have running water and the family’s outhouse was a 50-yard sprint away in the middle of the night or winter cold.
He was raised by his mother on his grandfather’s dairy farm that is now home to the Grand Ronde Water Association office on Highway 18 east of Spirit Mountain Casino. His grandparents were Fabian Frank Quenelle and Matilda “Tillie” Winslow.
His father bestowed his nickname on him – a name he used throughout his life.
His mother, who was a nurse and popular barber in Grand Ronde, sent Wink and his older brother, Arthur Francois Soderberg, to boarding school in Mount Angel, which is where he met his wife of 61 years, Kathy Patricia Hauth. They wed on Oct. 20, 1956.
They had three sons, 10 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
Soderberg served in the Navy from 1951-54 during the Korean War era on two different ships in the Caribbean Sea. After being discharged, he worked for the U.S. Postal Service for 26 years and then had several businesses that involved sales.
Soderberg said a discussion he had with key Restoration figure Marvin Kimsey, who walked on March 4, 2018, prompted him to drive from his Lake Oswego home with his wife to attend every meeting held by the Tribe during the effort to be restored to federal recognition in the 1970s and early 1980s.
Eventually, he and Kathy returned to Grand Ronde to be closer to Kimsey and his late wife, Michelle.
Soderberg received 367 votes in the 2005 election and was re-elected in 2008 with 377 votes. During both elections, he joined former Tribal Council members Kathleen Tom and Reyn Leno in winning seats.
While serving on Tribal Council, Soderberg and current Tribal Council Vice Chair Chris Mercier would often joke about which of them was the most handsome man on the Tribe’s governing body.
After leaving Tribal Council, Soderberg served on the Tribal Employee Rights Ordinance Commission.
He is survived by his wife, Kathy, of Grand Ronde; and sons, Steven Soderberg and his wife, Ronnie, of Grand Ronde; Gary Soderberg of Alaska; and William Joseph Soderberg III and his partner, Dave, of Seattle. He was preceded in death by his brother, Arthur Francois Soderberg, who walked on in 2007.
Dallas Mortuary Center of Dallas is helping the family with arrangements. Services are scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Saturday, June 30, in the Tribal gym, 9615 Grand Ronde Road.