Master Gunnery Sergeant Will Jennings Sooter (USMC Retired) passed quietly to his heavenly home October 10, 2012 at age 98. His wife of 69 years Hilda Makurath Sooter and daughter Evelyn May Sooter were by his side.
Born in Iberia, Missouri to Reverend Menzo and Georgia Brooks Sooter on April 27, 1914, he was the middle son of 11 children. He was a basketball star at Dixon High School and enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1941, serving in the South Pacific in the 2nd Marine Division (Tarawa, Tinian, Saipan and Okinawa battles).
After WWII ended and upon his return to the States, Sargent Sooter purchased a 120 acre dairy farm in St James, Missouri and settled in with his wife Hilda and his growing family. When the Korean conflict ensued in 1950, he returned to the Marine Corps and remained to serve a distinguished 23 years for his country.
He was fortunate to be stationed at El Toro Marine Base in Southern California the majority of his career with several tours of duty in Japan, Formosa and Taiwan. In 1960 he was selected to serve with the US State Department as the Non Commissioned Officer in Charge of security at the American Embassy, Panama City, Republic of Panama, serving under Ambassador Joseph P. Farland. He and Ambassador Farland became close friends and spent many weekends fishing the Gulf of Panama, Pinas Bay and Pearl lslands with their sons.
After his tour of duty in Panama, he returned to El Toro Marine base Santa Ana assigned to Fighter Attack Squadron VMA121, where he supervised the maintenance crew for A-4 Skyhawks. In 1967 he served 13 months at DaNang airbase South Vietnam and retired from his beloved Marine Corps in 1968. Master Gunnery Sargent Sooter and his family were active members of the Tustin Presbyterian Church, Tustin, California, and after his retirement members at Carlsbad Community Church, Carlsbad, California where he and Hilda settled. He also participated in Elks and Masons groups in Carlsbad. MGySgt Sooter was an avid salt and freshwater fisherman. He also played golf throughout north San Diego County.
He became an award winning wood carver of waterfowl decoys and many different species of birds and fish. He was also known for his award-winning roses as part of the San Diego Rose Society. He and wife Hilda traveled extensively throughout the United States, Europe, South America, New Zealand, and Asia in their retirement years. Master Gunnery Sargent Sooter loved nature, the outdoors, his family, the Marines and his country. He was a gentle patriotic man and beloved husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. He is missed tremendously by his family, friends and fellow Marines.
He is survived by his sister Joyce (Kenneth) Steele, sons Dizzy Lefon (Carolyn) Carver and Will James Sooter, daughters Jeanne (Ronald) Pearl and Evelyn May Sooter, grandchildren Melanie Marie Pearl, Daniel Edward Pearl, Roger Elbert Carver, Yvonne (Lutrell) Carver, and great-grandchildren Nikki (Smith) Durreman, Kacey (McGowan) Durreman, Dorthy Nadin Carver and Dizzy Joel Carver; and great-great grandchildren Clayton McGowan, Autumn McGowan, Erin Nicole Smith and Reed Allen Smith.
A special thank you to Elizabeth Hospice of San Diego for their loving support and to the U.S Marine Corps MajorGeneral Melvin G. Spiese and his staff. Semper Fidelis.