Orin Hazen Soest (October 20, 1926 - February 14, 2012)

Obituary
2 entries
  • "Oren will be missed for sure, he always had a sparkle in..."
    - Leslie Rosaschi
  • "Althea & Family, Please accept our deepest condolences..."
    - George Gurr
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Orin Hazen Soest passed on at age 85 on February 14, 2012, in Sequim. He was preceded in passing to the spirit world by his first son, Jeffrey Judson Soest; his parents, Dorothy Hazen Soest and Hugo Conrad Soest; plus two of the finest Morgan horses a man could hope for, UVM Pinup and Isle Count.

Survivors include his wife, Althea C. Soest; daughter Dawn A. Soest and son-in-law Dr. Steve Vredenburg of Banks, Oregon; and son Richard G. Soest of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. They will miss his wise council, wit and the twinkle in his blue eyes. His elder brother, Hugh G. Soest, and younger sister, Dorothy S. McCluskey, and their families also are feeling the loss.

His family is especially grateful to his caregivers for the past five years after he suffered a stroke on Mother's Day 2007. Tabitha and Matt Starkenburg and Elisa Osborn shared their skills and home with him and have become extended family members.

Orin had a diverse range of interests that earned him respect and many wonderful friends. He lived and worked with passion.

He was the middle child, born on October 20, 1926, in Middletown, Connecticut. In his teens, he attended both Choate and Darrow schools. He had a great fondness for Darrow. His mother passed away just after he turned 17.

In 1944, he went to Colorado College briefly, where he loved to play hockey. In April of 1945, due to World War II and his colorblindness, he was drafted into the Army, where he served two years in Korea as a medic. Luckily for the world, he survived this experience.

When he returned, he enrolled at Wharton School of Finance and Commerce, where he graduated in 1949 with a Bachelor of Science in economics, majoring in industrial management and minoring in political science.

On his 26th birthday, he proposed to Althea Jane Cushman. They were married in Glens Falls, New York, on February 14, 1953. Their three children were born in Philadelphia.

Orin utilized his business skills at Aetna Life Insurance Company, Scott Paper Company and Scriptomatic Incorporated (as national sales manager). At the age of 37, in 1963, he moved his family from the East Coast to Jackson Hole. Here, he was a co-owner of Jackson Lumber Company and Shootin' Iron Ranches.

Also at this time, he began his lifelong love of horses. From cattle drives to hunting camps to competitive trail rides to driving and pulling a sleigh or antique doctor's buggy (that he had restored), he was a true cowboy and gentle horseman. He loved the outdoors and spent his free time playing tennis, skiing and snowmobiling.

Living in Jackson for more than 20 years, he was very active in the community. He ran for county commissioner, was a Rotarian and was on the board of directors for the Teton County Fairgrounds and Jackson State Bank. He was a key figure in orchestrating the current annual Boy Scout Elk antler roundup and auction fundraiser. In 1970, he bought a condominium in Kaanapali, Maui, Hawaii, where he loved to vacation.

Orin retired to the land of the rain shadow, Sequim, in 1984. There, his philanthropic activities and visionary skills would not rest. He had a gift of looking at the lay of the land and creating a space that was both functional and beautiful. He always advised his family to leave a place better than you found it.

The garden that he and Althea designed and nurtured at their "Folly Farm" (named after his parents' farm in New York) is known for its spectacular year-round plant interest, incredible views and riding paths.

In 1990, he began a relationship that continues in perpetuity with the University of Washington and the Center for Urban Horticulture. In 1998, the Orin and Althea Soest Herbaceous Garden was dedicated and has been a cherished gift to the university and the community of Seattle for its educational and healing purposes.

Orin's celebration-of-life service and reception will occur at Sequim Community Church, 950 North Fifth Avenue, on Saturday, February 25, 2012, at 1 p.m. A private burial will held at Dungeness Cemetery.

Please visit the family's guest book at www.sequimvalleychapel.com.

Memorial gifts in his honor can be made to the Soest Herbaceous Garden Fund at the University of Washington Foundation, 3718 Brooklyn Ave Northeast, P.O. Box 355055, Seattle, WA 98105, or online at www.washington.edu/giving; or to any worthy cause that you desire.
Funeral Home
Sequim Valley Funeral Chapel
108 W Alder St PO Box 297
Sequim, WA 98382
(360) 683-5242
Published in The Peninsula Daily News on Feb. 24, 2012
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Sequim, WA   (360) 683-5242