Submitted by His Daughter
Leo H. Soderquist
Axtell Rural Volunteer Fire Department – Nebraska
Date of Death: December 1‚ 2006
Leo was a 36-year veteran of the Axtell Rural Volunteer Fire Department. He was a second generation firefighter for the Village of Axtell‚ his family’s home for five generations. Leo was a respected community leader and small business owner. He was dedicated to his family‚ his church (Bethany Lutheran)‚ and the Axtell Volunteer Fire Department. Leo also served on the Axtell Chamber of Commerce‚ the Axtell Housing Authority‚ Bethany Nursing Home Board‚ and was active for many years with the Boy Scouts.
Leo was born in 1942 to Reuben H. and Anna Mae (Popple) Soderquist. He graduated from Axtell High School in 1960. After serving in the U.S. Army he returned to his hometown. Leo married Linda Emal on November 30‚ 1968 and together they raised three children. His oldest son‚ Shawn‚ is the family’s third generation firefighter‚ also with the Axtell Fire Department.
Leo and his wife‚ Linda‚ started Soderquist Custom Cabinet Co. in 1974. He was proud to be one of the first Certified Kitchen Designers in the state of Nebraska through the National Kitchen and Bath Association. All who knew Leo considered him to be a master craftsman and skilled wood artisan. His work can be found in homes‚ restaurants‚ and businesses throughout central Nebraska and beyond.
Leo truly enjoyed his affiliation with the fire department. He served as Assistant Fire Chief‚ Vice-President and President of the Department‚ and was an EMT for many years. He dutifully responded to emergency medical and fire calls both night and day‚ helping numerous friends and neighbors in times of need. During the early morning hours of December 1‚ Leo helped battle a fire at a farm home north of Axtell. He suffered a heart attack after firefighters returned to the station around 2 a.m. He was assisted immediately by his son and fellow firefighters and was transported to Good Samaritan Hospital in Kearney where he died. Leo and his wife‚ Linda‚ celebrated their 38th wedding anniversary the day before his death.
In addition to his commitment to the fire department‚ Leo loved his family‚ his church‚ tinkering in his wood shop‚ fishing‚ and photography. Survivors include his wife‚ Linda; daughter‚ Michelle Hartnett and her husband‚ Chad; son‚ Shawn Soderquist and his wife‚ Melissa; son‚ Ryan Soderquist; five grandchildren: Brooke‚ Tyler‚ and Collin Soderquist and William and Emma Hartnett; one sister‚ Marie Boston and her husband Reid; one nephew‚ two nieces‚ and many cousins.
Leo knew no strangers and was a friend to everyone he met. In addition to his many talents‚ Leo will be fondly remembered for his friendly and easygoing nature‚ his joy in telling a good story‚ his warm smile‚ and his laughter.