My Mom and Dad always sang in the church choir. Each had a good sense of humor. Years ago I received a letter from my dad that started like this: “When your mother and I join that Great Heavenly Choir in the Sky, your mom and I will be toe-to-toe on the sixth floor of the Oak Lawn Mausoleum in Conroe, Texas.”
It actually didn’t work out that way. Instead, they moved to Oshkosh to be closer to family. However, if they needed a good bass, Dad surely joined that Heavenly Choir when he passed away on May 21, 2014, at the age of 93.
Born Sept. 21, 1920, to Mennonite family John and Mary Suderman (nee Nickel), he had three sisters who died before him: Ruth, Erna, and Ruby. An infant sister predeceased as well. Monroe lived his early years in Hillsboro, Kansas. He had so much affection for his parents and the three older sisters who helped raise him. He cherished his Mennonite origins and the grounding that the faith gave him.
A gifted intellect led him to Kansas State University where he majored in chemical engineering. He married his best girl, Ruth Jost, in June of 1942. They had a long and wonderful marriage until her death in 2009.
In college, Monroe was better known to his friends as “Dutch,” an affable nickname that stayed with him the rest his life. During his work life, Ruth and Dutch moved from Illinois to New Jersey, to Pennsylvania, back to Illinois, followed by a move to Virginia, to Texas, and on to Wisconsin toward the end of their lives.
In the course of these times this gentle, humble man exhibited the essence of leadership and volunteerism. He was president of numerous service organizations and served in virtually every leadership role in his lifelong membership in the United Methodist Church. Along the way, Dutch had a myriad of employees who, without exception, told us how privileged they were to work for him.
Additionally, Dutch was elected to the local school board when he lived in Streator, Illinois.
He loved golf, traveling abroad, and singing. He combined two of these passions by joining the Montgomery County Chorale, which performed concerts in a number of cathedrals in Europe including Austria and Germany.
When he was in his 80s, Dutch was driving the back roads of Texas delivering Meals on Wheels — this despite my admonition that, at this stage in his life, he ought to be getting the meals rather than giving them. It was also during this time that he taught English to Spanish-speaking elementary school children in Texas. This particular service exemplified his altruistic, generous nature. He was Christian to his core and lived a life of servant leadership.
Devoted to his family, he was proud of his children, Steve (Barbara) Suderman and his daughter, Marcia (Carston) Larson. He enjoyed his grandchildren Allison Carrick, of Oshkosh, Jonathan (Lisa Sagan) Hoyt of Chicago, Mary Robyn (Craig) Peotter of Menominee Falls, Laurel (Jim) Blinka of New Berlin, Kristin Larson of Chicago, and Wendy (Darin) Osmundsen of Phoenix.
Papa Dutch always loved babies and little kids, especially his nine great-grandchildren Emmaline and Audrey Carrick, Charlie, Harry, and Maggie Blinka, Henry, Kate, and Elizabeth Peotter, and Jameson Hoyt. He was especially looking forward to meeting Wendy and Darin’s twins expected this coming fall.
Dad was blessed with a marvelously witty, good-natured disposition. His was a life well-lived. He valued faith, family, music, golf and his work. No other presence could fill the void he leaves in our family. We are both bereft and blessed, comforted in the knowledge that he is enjoying his eternal reward. Dutch Suderman was an amazing man, and that thought was continually validated by other people, whether it was friends, employees or his doctors and caregivers. We were fortunate to have him.
Special thanks to nephews, Richard and Raymond Franz, for traveling such great distances to see their uncle before his passing, as well as to son-in-law, Carston Larson, for all his loving care.
Funeral service was Tuesday, May 27, at Algoma Boulevard United Methodist Church. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Algoma Boulevard United Methodist Church Choir/Organ Fund.