Fallen Chicago police Officer Thor Soderberg is remembered by his students as a committed teacher, by friends and family as a generous public servant, and by fellow officers as a leader.
Soderberg’s star was retired Tuesday in a ceremony at police headquarters. Soderberg, an 11-year police veteran, was killed July 7 as he left a police station at 61st Street and Racine Avenue in Englewood when a man allegedly tried to rob him, wrestled his gun away and shot him.
The officer’s “blood family and his family of blue” reflected on Soderberg’s life and the legacy he leaves behind before adding his star to the wall containing those of 478 other officers who have died in the line of duty.
“Thor’s compassion rendered him a natural protector,” said police Superintendent Jody Weis. Police brass described Soderberg as light-hearted with a good sense of humor.
“He was devoted to making the lives of young people better,” Mayor Richard Daley said of Soderberg, who participated in a project called Operation Protect Youth and trained recruits at the police academy.
Many of his students, now assigned to districts across the city, gave a final salute to their teacher during the ceremony. They described Soderberg as warm and open, always willing to teach by example rather than bark orders.
“You gave him more respect,” said Herman Otero, a Rogers Park officer who graduated from the academy in July. “You didn’t mind doing what he asked.”
Service to others, said Kevin Abercrombie, was the central guiding principle for Soderberg in both his personal life and as a police officer.
“What stood out for me was how much he wanted to change the perception of what most people thought of police,” said Abercrombie, who was Soderberg’s best friend and college roommate at the Illinois Institute of Technology.
Wife Jennifer Loudon made a brief statement after the ceremony, urging people to follow Soderberg’s lead.
“Words can’t express how deeply we feel this loss,” Loudon said. “But Thor would want to remind us … to do the right thing. He would want people to know it’s never too late to do the right thing.”Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times