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Lester Soden

December 14, 2014

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Lester Emerson Soden, 92 of Honesdale, died peacefully on Sunday, December 14, 2014 at Ellen Memorial Health Care Center after a long illness. He is survived by his wife, the former Doris Burdick. The couple married on April 22, 1961. Born on October 26, 1922, he was the son of the late Emerson and Tennie Gregory Soden at Tanners Falls, PA. He attended Honesdale High School and graduated from Commercial School in 1941. He served in WWII US Air Force from 1943-1945. 8th AF-89th Depot Repair Sq of 3rd Strategic Air Command, Watton, England. He was an engine specialist on B-24 bombers in General Doolittle’s outfit who made the first daylight bombing from England. After the service, he operated a blacktop paver and power shovel for Suburban Construction and later for Herman Clark Blacktopping. In 1948, he formed a partnership with his father, Emerson, “on a shake of a hand” under the name of E. Soden & Son in Honesdale doing excavating and general contracting. In 1963, they incorporated and included his brother, Carl called E. Soden & Sons, Inc. After Emerson’s death in 1972 they continued the business until 1986 when Lester retired due to health and sold his share to his brother. E. Soden and Sons, Inc. were well-known throughout the area building dams, lakes, ponds, sewer and water lines, farms, roads, all kinds of excavation and development. After retiring in 1986, Lester did private consulting on all types of projects, building and excavation work. He served as a consultant for many area business and property owners. Lester received the “1976 Conservative Contractor of the Year” award from the PA Land Improvement Contractors Association where he served as president and director. In November 2001, Lester was honored at the “Honesdale Lions Club Bonanza” at Woodloch Pines for his dedicated and unselfish service he had given to the Honesdale Lions Club and the community. In 2003, he was inducted into the “Tony Berris Memorial” for years of contributing to youth programs in Honesdale Borough for the development and construction of sites for youth. His name is engraved with others on a bench at Berris Park. He dug the foundation for the first Lions Club swimming pool on Park Street. He built two Little League fields on Grove Street, when it was the Honesdale garbage dump. He supervised the excavation of the HHS football and baseball fields, known as the Terrace Street Project. He contacted local contractors who donated their machines, fuel and men. Lester was a Life member of the Honesdale Lions Club. He was a life member of the Wayne-Pike Shrine Club; over a 50 year member of Honesdale Lodge #218 Masons, and its bodies. He was 32 degree Scottish Rite Masons of Keystone Consistory, a Shriner at Irem Temple. He was an active member of Central United Methodist Church. He was a member of Seelyville Fire Company for over 60 years. He served on the Indian Orchard Cemetery Association Board; Texas Township Planning Commission; Wayne Co Conservations District; PA Land Improvement Contractors Association; Lake Wallenpaupack Watershed District. He is a former member of the Dorflinger-Suydam Wildlife Sanctuary and the Upper Hills Hunting Club. As a member of Central United Methodist Church, he served as Chairman of the Trustees, member of the Administrative Council, Methodist Men, Wyoming Conference Building Committee, Finance Committee and Long Range Planning Committee. He worked at the Methodist Men’s pancake supper, ice cream socials and chicken BBQ’s. In January 1990, he supervised the demolition of the old J.J. Koehler school project and the renovation of the original Honesdale High School, now known as the Wesley Room Annex of Central United Methodist Church. He served as head of the volunteer work crew of the church doing repairs and rebuilding of this project. During this time a very special “brotherly bond” was formed among these men. All who worked were volunteers, except for the framing and the brick work. In November 1992, the Wesley Room Annex was completed and dedicated. While chairman of the trustees, it was approved to refurbish the Moeller pipe organ in the church. This was done He and his wife, Doris, created and maintained the church flower gardens for many years. Of all the many projects and activities Lester was involved in throughout his life, it was his church, being a Shriner and a Lion, he was the most proud. He loved driving his John Deere tractor and mowing the manicured lawn. Lester always believed in helping others, his church and his community. He was a well known and highly respected man. Also surviving are his three sons, Steven and his wife Linda of Honesdale; David and his wife Sandy of Carbondale; and Daniel and his fiance Kristen of West Creek, NJ; one daughter, Billie Lopatofsky of Bradenton, FL; grandchildren and great grandchildren. Predeceasing him are a sister, Helen Bryant Lopatofsky and a brother, Carl R. Soden. Funeral services will be held on Friday, December 19th at the Central United Methodist Church in Honesdale at 10 am with Pastor Rob Kazinski officiating. Interment will follow in Indian Orchard Cemetery. Friends may visit on Thursday from 4 to 7 in the Wesley Room of the Central United Methodist Church. Arrangements by Hessling Funeral Home, Inc., 428 Main St. Honesdale. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to the Shriners Hospital for Children, 3551 N. Broad St. Philadelphia, PA 19140 or the Dyberry Day Camp/ARC, PO Box 1121, Honesdale, PA 18431.