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John Soderberg named Alzheimer’s Walk honorary chairman

This year’s Western Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Walk honorary chairman is John Soderberg, president of First National Community Bank. The walk will take place Saturday, Sept. 17, at 9:30 a.m. (Photo by Jordan Willi)

For the last two years, John Soderberg’s wife, Tini, has been a resident at the Deerfield due to her dementia with probable Alzheimer’s. However, when Tini first started showing symptoms four years ago, Soderberg, who is CEO and Chairman of the Board of First National Community Bank, took care of her for two years at their home before deciding that he wasn’t able to give his wife the care she needed by himself. 

“The reason we picked John as the (Western Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Walk) honorary chairman is because of how wonderful he has been as a caregiver for Tini, especially before she got here,” said Deerfield Housing Director Jackie Waalen.

“It is remarkable how he kept his stamina and his determination to take care of her through those two years. You really need to keep your eyes open all the time to take care of someone with dementia and that is why they call it a 36-hour day. And John was really living that.”

This year’s walk will be held Saturday, Sept. 17, at the Deerfield with registration starting at 8:30 a.m. and the walk beginning at 9:30 a.m.

“After taking care of her for two years in our home, it was decided that it was getting too demanding for me to take care of her and it came to a point where I didn’t feel like I was giving her enough care,” Soderberg said. “So someone suggested to me to bring her out to the Deerfield and they just so happened to have an opening so I could get her in as soon as we were able to. It was the best thing that ever happened to us. These people know what they are doing out here.”

Though Soderberg was unsure if his wife would take to her new residence, he was pleasantly surprised to find out, after just three days of visiting Tini at the Deerfield, that she loved her new home.

“Now she is getting the things that she needs and they have wonderful nurses and administration here,” Soderberg said. “The third time I was out here to see her … she told me that this was her new home. That was just a wonderful thing to hear. She is so happy here.”

While Soderberg was taking care of his wife he did the best that he could, but by the end of the second year, the burden was getting to be too much for him and, more importantly, he began to feel like he wasn’t giving Tini the nourishment and support she needed.

“I was doing what I had to and could do, but I didn’t think I was giving her the nourishment that she needed because I still have a job,” Soderberg said. “It is just a wonderful place and was a Godsend for us. And my wife loves it here.”

Tini, who is originally from the Netherlands, was a teacher for more than 50 years and has always been very social, Soderberg said. Because of that, living at the Deerfield and getting the opportunity to be interact with so many people every day has made Tini extremely happy with her new home. And she gets to see Soderberg every day for at least 45 minutes where the couple share what went on with their days.

“I am going to do everything I can to make sure this kind of thing continues because when it happens to your family it is that close to you and you then want to start doing everything you can to help educate others,” Soderberg said. “This place has been very good to me and my wife, so I’m honored to have been chosen to be the honorary chair for the walk this year.”

For more information about the Western Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Walk, visit Alz.org; call Jackie Waalen at 715-243-3912; or email jwaalen@preshomes.org.

There is also still time to create a team by going to Alz.org.

“There is some stigma that since the event is happening in New Richmond that the event is just for New Richmond people or just for St. Croix County, but it is really for everyone from Pierce, St. Croix and Polk counties,” Waalen said. “We are trying to call it the Western Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Walk in order to let people know that it isn’t just about one town or one city.”

Jordan Willi
Jordan Willi is a reporter for the New Richmond News. Previously, he worked as a sports reporter at the Worthington Daily Globe in Worthington, Minnesota. He also interned at the Hudson Star Observer for two summers and contributed to the Bison Illustrated sports magazine at North Dakota State University.
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