CPD officer remembered year after death

July 7, 2011 (BROOKFIELD, Ill.)

Thursday morning's ceremony was attended by those who Officer Thor Soderberg knew and loved. The remembrance service sought to not only celebrate his life but also move his dream of introducing city kids to nature one step closer to being a reality.

"It was nice to have met him and just have that conversation," said CPD First Deputy Superintendent Al Wysinger.

Wysinger paid tribute to one of the fallen as a community of family and friends gathered to mark the one-year anniversary of the death of Chicago Police Officer Thor Soderberg.

"It's been a really hard year personally, but my friends and my family and the city of Chicago in general have been really supportive," said Jennifer Loudon, Soderberg's widow.

Really supportive, especially when it came to honoring her husband's passion for helping young people experience the outdoors and nature.

Thursday morning's remembrance was hosted by the Brookfield Zoo.

"When I first heard about Officer Soderberg, and his work with kids on the South Side, and his interest in getting them more engaged in nature, it fits our model of outreach here at the zoo," said Stuart Strahl, Brookfield Zoo president and CEO.

Officers that Officer Soderberg worked closely with, along with various youth groups, also attended Thursday's private event, which celebrated his life and vision.

"A wise man told me once the four most important words in life began with the letter 'F': Faith, family, friends, and freedom. Thor's life was indeed a reflection of this," said Tom Chasman, 100 Club of Chicago.

It is because of Officer Soderberg's love and commitment to the environment that attendees were given white oak tree saplings -- Illinois' official state tree -- to plant in his honor.

"His passion is our mission," said Cook County Forest Preserve Superintendent Arnold Randall. "We really are about preserving natural areas, exposing young people and families to our natural areas to understand their value and create a whole new generation of environmental stewards."

Bike unit officer Pat Christian plans to plant a tree in her backyard in memory of her one-time partner.

"Thor was dear to all of us, very special, him and his wife," said Christian.

Soderberg was a veteran of the Chicago Police Department for more than a decade. He was also a veteran of Operation Desert Storm as well as a triathlete.

It was July 7, 2010, when Soderberg was gunned down as he left work at the CPD's training facility in Chicago's Englewood neighborhood.

Thursday, Soderberg's father Fred expressed his pride in how his son touched so many in such a positive way.

"A good person. He could have done a lot more if he'd stayed, but he did as much as he could while he was here," Soderberg said.

About 150 saplings were given away in honor of Officer Thor Soderberg.

The suspect accused in Soderberg's murder, 24-year-old Bryant Brewer, is currently awaiting trial.

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