Memorial services for James Walter Souders, 75, of Wilmington, NC, will be held at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, July 5, 2011, at the United Methodist Church in Merna, with interment of cremains to follow at the Merna Cemetery. The family will host a lunch in the Merna Community Center after the interment.
James died March 2, 2011, in Wilmington. The Andrews Mortuary in that city handled the cremation.
The oldest child of Vernon and Helen (Kellenbarger) Souders, Jim was born in Aurora, Mo., Aug. 13, 1935, and moved with his parents the next year back to central Nebraska. Raised on farms south of Anselmo, he attended local rural schools, graduated from Merna High School in 1953, and with honors in Civil Engineering from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1958.
He later received an MBA from Rutgers University.
December 21, 1957, he married Arlene Lou Selk in Lincoln. After graduation, he went to work for what is now the Exxon Corporation, first as an engineer, then as a sales representative. They lived in Baton Rouge, La., Lombard, Ill., and Akron, Ohio, before he, Lou, and their three children settled in the Gillette/ Millington area, Morris County, NJ, in the mid-1960s. A few years later, Elco Chemical hired Jim to be their international market manager, a job which took him to many parts of the world. He and Lou retired in 1998 and moved to Wilmington.
In New Jersey, Jim served in his church and was a 4-H leader. He also served on local environmental and library commissions, the Board of Trustees for the College of Morris, was elected to a term on the Passaic Township Committee with a concurrent role on the Planning Board, and helped at the Thomas Edison Library.
In Wilmington, he was a volunteer at the Cape Fear River Watch (president), Cape Fear Museum, Wilmington Symphony, and actively followed local governmental actions. In 2006, he received the President’s Volunteer Service Award initiated by the Wilmington City Council.
A longtime contributor to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Alumni Fund, Jim was the principal donor to the endowed Helen and Vernon Souders Memorial Scholarship given annually to an Anselmo-Merna High School senior.
Preceded in death by his parents, he is survived by his wife, Lou; daughter, Kimberly (Walter) Sadowsky and son Alex of Millington, NJ; son, Steven (Carrie) Souders and daughters Emma, Ann, and Grace of Los Altos, Calif., and daughter Laurie (Warren) Wierse and children McKenzie and Harrison of Wilmington, NC. Also surviving are his brother, Vernon L. (Rebecca) Souders of McMinnville, Ore.; sister, Margaret (William) Schreiber of Loveland, Colo.; aunt, Arlene (Kellenbarger) Pruden Lindholm of Fremont; special relatives the Josephine and Howard Lamb family of Anselmo; in-laws, cousins, nephews, and many friends.
In 2004, Jim was diagnosed with Multiple System Atrophy (MSA), a debilitating neurological disease. The disease increasingly affected his speech and body thereby lessening his activities year by year, a contradiction of his lifetime of service to family and communities.
Concerned with human welfare, Jim’s was a life done well.
Published in Custer County Chief, June 30, 2011