Moments in Time
Moments in Time is a weekly series featuring recollections of area residents. To suggest someone to feature in Moments in Time, please contact Mary Jane Grenzow, editor, at email@example.com.
After finding her way into a calling-turned-career, delving into community involvement and creating lasting relationships through her nursing profession, Soderberg realized early on that helping people, teaching, talking and always listening were gifts she shared with ease.
Soderberg was born and raised in Beloit. She grew up in the country as the eldest of four children. She said she has wonderful memories of playing outside and, although she had an affinity for reading, was very social. Her family loved to sing and it was something she carried with her through life.
"I am from a family full of singers," Soderberg laughed. "We pretended we were the Partridge family," referring to a popular 1970s TV sitcom featuring a singing family.
The family also spent a lot of time together at the hospital. Soderberg's younger brother had a disability and, although she was young, she has memories of the family often making the trek to visit him. It was the start of the curiosity into a career that would, in some ways, shape her life.
"My brother had a nurse he was always very close to, and I was always interested," Soderberg said.
High school was enjoyable for Soderberg, and she played sports, was on the pompom team and served as the school's first female student council president. She was social and friendly - her English teacher even gave her the nickname "Loquacious" because she was always talking.
One of the book series Soderberg enjoyed was "Sherry Ames" by Helen Wells, a mystery series featuring a nurse in different hospital settings. It added to her being drawn to a career in nursing, and she hoped one day to become a flight attendant/nurse who would help with deliveries on flights.
After her graduation from Beloit Turner High School in 1978, Soderberg headed to Blackhawk Technical College in Janesville for nursing. She had applied to become a flight attendant, but there was a waiting list.
She served as a medical assistant for a year before heading back to school where she earned her associate's degree in 1982. There was a job opening at Monroe Clinic. Soderberg became a registered nurse first assistant, and worked in the operating room alongside an orthopedic surgeon, a job she held for nine years.
Although she would sometimes assist with Cesarean sections, Soderberg always felt there was something missing. In 1989, after Soderberg gave birth to her son, she became a labor and delivery nurse, a perfect fit.
"I just thought "this is a miracle, and I'd love to be a part of it,'" Soderberg said.
She spent the next 25 years in labor and delivery and management, thoroughly enjoying being a part of so many lives. She also served as a lactation consultant and a childbirth educator. Teaching was also something she truly loved, and she also spent time teaching at BTC.
Bringing joy to people was always a high priority for her.
"In a service occupation you sometimes see people at their worst, or most vulnerable," she said. "So you just try and make it as joyful as you can."
Being so involved in many of the families in the area has been a gift to Soderberg, she said. Some she would see time and time again, and others became her best friends.
Soderberg, a young mother herself, formed a coffee group around 1992 so others like her could gather to support, uplift and listen to each other. She later also started a Le Leche League.
Both were great ways for Soderberg to reach out to fellow people in Monroe and make fast friends.
"That same group of moms eventually became soccer moms, and then book club moms, and then investment club," Soderberg laughed. "It was truly the evolution of friendship."
In 1996, Soderberg felt a calling and a business opportunity when she and her husband, Dave, opened Sonshine Corner, a Christian bookstore in town. They were part of a strong, young, Christian group in town at the time that stayed active. Eventually, they opened Shephard's Heart & Soul Cafe, a coffee shop with Christian musicians and authors. But when book sales over the internet came full force, it forced them to close the business in 2001.
Soderberg always kept nursing part time and headed back into her career.
"The nursing career has been really fulfilling," Soderberg said. "There's a lot of variety and so many choices."
While her two children attended St. Victor School, Soderberg often stepped in to help out with school nurse duties. In 2008, when a position opened up for a district nurse and supervisor of health services in Monroe, Soderberg went for it.
"I could finally combine my love for nursing, teaching and kids," she said. She had just finished her bachelor's degree, and the timing was perfect. "I love being a school nurse."
After more than nine years, Soderberg is now ending her school nursing career in Monroe, coincidentally in the office on the third floor of the library, which was the place she began as a nurse in 1982.
Things seemingly have come full circle for her.
"Nursing has been a really good fit for me, and it's a great career for anyone who wants it," she said.
Deciding to leave Monroe has been difficult. After losing a brother after a long illness and some dear friends, Soderberg realizes how important family and friends are. Now that she and her husband are empty nesters, she has felt a calling to be near her parents and family in Beloit. She has accepted a position at Beloit Turner as the district nurse there.
"We're a close family." Soderberg said. "We like each other's company."
It will also be hard to be away from all of her community involvement. She earned the Lamp of Learning award in 2011 from the Monroe school district for taking on hours at the high school as a school nurse and bringing in several new ideas for children's resources. She serves on the board of directors for the Salvation Army of Green County and is the Red Kettle coordinator and serves as a bell-ringer. She serves on the Wisconsin Association of School Nurses, serving on the board currently as the research chair; she also belongs to the National Association of School Nurses.
Soderberg was the president of the Swiss ALPS Cheeseland-Community Built Playground and headed up the project with the Parks and Recreation Department. She said it was one of the most remarkable experiences in her life and loves how the park district has kept it so nice after so many years. She also served as the church cantor for St. Victor for 20 years, and her entire family sang there. She taught catechism to high schoolers in the late 1980s and sang at many of the church's weddings. She was also active in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program in Green County.
"We've had such a good life here," Soderberg said. "This town has a lot to offer."
Today, Soderberg finds peace in writing, mostly poetry and some other things as well. She said she is very spiritual and also very connected to her children, Nathan and Rachel.
And she has words she lives by, she said:
"When you seek happiness for yourself, it will elude you," Soderberg said. "When you seek happiness for others, you will find it."