Josephine Rita Soeder, 87, a longtime resident of Parma Heights, Ohio, entered into eternal rest on August 1, 2021.
She was 21 years old when she came to America. Dreaming of a new beginning, she arrived with all of her earthly possessions packed in a single suitcase. She went on to unpack a beautiful life, selflessly devoted to family and friends.
Josephine was born January 2, 1934, (which equated to 1-2-34, as she delighted in pointing out) to Johann and Eleonore Heilmann in Untererthal, a farming village in Bavaria, Germany. When Josephine wasn’t milking cows or working in the fields, she would knit socks using wool from her family’s sheep. During World War II, paper was so scarce when she was in school that she wrote on blank margins ripped from newspapers.
In 1955, Josephine immigrated to New York City, where she was employed by the German consulate. At first she knew barely a word of English, but after studying the language in night school, she eventually became fluent enough to land a job operating IBM keypunch machines in the Pan Am Building.
During a fateful 1965 visit to Cleveland, mutual friends introduced her to another German immigrant, Edmund Soeder. Before she left town, Edmund asked Josephine if she would write to him. She said she would, if he wrote to her first. She liked to joke that his first letter was already waiting for her when she got off the plane in NYC. A whirlwind courtship ensued, culminating in marriage less than one year later.
A woman of deep faith, Josephine belonged to Saint John Bosco Parish. She attended Mass daily and often rose before the sun to pray in the Eucharistic Adoration Chapel.
Josephine got up early to get her sons off to school and worked the night shift in the offices of Commercial Lovelace Motor Freight to help make ends meet. She later worked at Marshalls in Southland.
In her modest kitchen, she cooked and baked the most delicious German delicacies you ever tasted, and even the simplest meal at her table felt like a feast. With Edmund, Josephine savored walking around the block and seeing the world. She also enjoyed traveling with friends, knitting and crocheting, watching “Jeopardy!,” playing Rummikub, and rooting for Cleveland sports teams, especially the Cavaliers and the Indians.
Nothing brought her more joy than her six grandchildren. Oma doted on them, cheered them on, and kept them well-fed.
Josephine also cherished a circle of dear friends that circumscribed every corner of her life, from coffee klatsch to LifeWorks fitness center. In their hour of need, she was always there for them.
Josephine is survived by sons John (Joanie) and Mark (Rita); grandchildren Colin, Sean, Julia, John, Ed, and Ella; brother August (Hildegunde), twin brother Karl (Karlin), and sister Gertrud (Egon, deceased); and many nieces and nephews. Josephine was preceded in death by her beloved husband of 37 years, Edmund.
Her family is deeply grateful to her caregivers at Mount Alverna Village, Hospice of the Western Reserve, Altenheim, and Maureen’s Helping Hands.
Josephine taught us that what really counts is not what you have, but what you give of yourself to others. Gifts in her memory may be made to the West Side Catholic Center.
Family will receive friends at the Mallchok Funeral Home, 5660 Ridge Rd., Parma, Ohio, on Saturday, August, 7, 2021, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Prayer services Saturday at the funeral home at 11 a.m. Funeral Mass at St. John Bosco Catholic Church at 11:30 a.m. Interment will follow at Holy Cross Cemetery.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of JOSEPHINE RITA (Heilmann) SOEDER, please visit our floral store.
West Side Catholic Center
3135 Lorain Avenue, Cleveland OH 44113