The Sotherden's Part III
Posted on September 27, 2018
The Sotherden Story Part III
Donald became president of D. V. Sotherden, Inc. when his father, Frank, retired from the company in the 1950’s. It was the former Sotherden Feed and Fuel Co. Donald had met his wife to be, Lucile Spencer, soon after high school graduation on a week-long camping trip to the Adirondacks. Lucile was a guest of the other family that went with the Sotherdens. She went to Syracuse University and Donald went to St. Lawrence University. Even though they didn’t see each other for several years, they must have kept in touch for they became engaged in their senior year. They both graduated in June of 1936, Donald with a bachelor’s degree in Economics. In July, they were married in Lucile’s parents home in Phoenix. The couple had four children: Stephen, who now lives on Oneida Lake in the house that he remodeled from the old family camp; Jean (Sotherden) Clune who lives in Hot Sulphur Springs, Colo.; Ann (Sotherden) Bunyan of Loveland, Colo.; and Gary Frank, who was lost in Alaska at the age of 25. They brought up their family in the Sotherden homestead on Route 31.
Donald continued his father’s interest in Immanuel Church, mainly with the young people by establishing the Frank and Abie Sotherden Fund for scholarships to college. Also, he donated for special youth work in Immanuel and a church in Florida where he went in the winter. Like his father, Donald was always ready when the church needed financial help. Closer to home, when each of his grandchildren reached 14 years of age, he would take him/her on a three-week trip to the British Isles. This was the tradition begun by Frank who had taken each of his grandchildren on a month-long trip touring the countries of Europe.
His wife, Lucile, called him a workaholic because Donald was always into something. His list of activities seems endless. He was bank director for 36 years at Cicero State bank and later at Merchants National Bank; past master and member of Centerville Masonic Lodge 648, North Syracuse; a thrice potent master of the Scottish Rite Consistory in the Valley of Syracuse; a member of the North Syracuse Rotary, the Paul Harris Fellows and the Clay Volunteer Fire Department.
Personally, I feel that a major community involvement was his donation of the old Clay Railroad Station to the Clay Historical Association (CHA) for a Clay Historical Museum. He had bought it in 1963 for storage when Clay was no longer a freight or passenger stop on the schedule. For years the group had wanted a museum and in the 1990’s, things began to happen. Donald worked with two church members who were also members of the CHA, the Town of Clay, and the Town Historian, Bud Lepinske. Merle Melvin donated 2.8 acres of land behind Immanuel Lutheran Church property. Ownership of this property and the station were turned over to the Town of Clay. This was the beginning of the Clay Historic Park.
By 1990, Donald began down sizing his business. First he discontinued the seed business and shut down the mill. He was one of the last two out of 25 in the area who discontinued selling coal. The last was the oil business which he sold to Oneida Lake Energy. For a couple years, Gary’s Small Engine rented the Mill building. Then for several years, a Veterinary rented it who even serviced farm animals. Donald and Lucile enjoyed their last years at their home on Fay Park drive, with grandchildren and friends. Donald passed away on July 20, 1998 from injuries sustained in a car accident. Lucile sold the remaining property after Donald’s death. The Sotherden name still lives on in the Town of Clay. (To be .continued)
Dorothy Heller, Historian
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