The Anna Jane Soffel Fund to Defeat ALS

The Best!.......that is how all of our family has continued to, and always will, remember our dear Mother, Mother-in-Law, Grandmother, and Great Grandmother.

My dear Mother-in-Law, Anna Jane Soffel was born on April 2, 1904. She grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with her father, Andreas Soderberg, who came to the United States from Sweden at the age of 12, her mother, Nida Ione Soderberg, and her older sister, Mary Hildegarde. Anna Jane married Dr. Joseph August Soffel in 1929. They raised a son, Andrew, and twin daughters, Jane and Joan.

In 1943, Dr. Joseph Soffel volunteered to serve in World War II, in the Army. On D-Day, June 6, 1944, Anna Jane gathered her three children around her to listen to a radio broadcast of the situation in France. As it turned out, Joseph Soffel was aboard a LST which landed on Omaha Beach that day, and he spent three and a half years away from home.

In 1984, at the age of 80, Anna Jane began having trouble picking up her right foot, was told that she had a “dropped foot,” and was given a brace and a cane. After visiting several specialists, she was finally told that she had “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” and that there was nothing that could be done. How devastating for her and for all of her family. She slowly became unable to use her legs, but she never lost her spirit and determination and, amazingly, her wonderful sense of humor. She lost her battle to ALS in December 1987.

A remark that Anna Jane made, after moving into an assisted living apartment, changed the lives of all of her family. She said one day, “They will never find what causes this or how to fix it.” Her son, Andy, and I were living in suburban Detroit at the time and we immediately investigated ALS resources. In 1988, the Michigan Chapter of The ALS Association was formed, along with the Harry J. Heonselaar ALS Clinic at Henry Ford Hospital. Andy became a member of the Board of the Michigan Chapter. Today, ALS clinics nationwide provide invaluable support to patients, and their families. It is heartwarming to see the dedication of those who are involved in the ongoing fight to find a cause and a cure for ALS.

Anna Jane’s son, Andy, joined the National Board of The ALS Association and was a Trustee Emeritus. Our son, Bill, who lives on Chautauqua Lake, New York, with his family, has joined the The Association’s National Board of Trustees, and continues the passion of the Soffel family to find a cure. Bill hosts an annual golf tournament at Chautauqua Lake, to raise money for ALS. His daughter, Hanna Soffel Briggs, does a wonderful job of planning and executing the successful tournament. Her Great Grandmother would be so proud!

One of Anna Jane’s loves, were the summers she spent with her family, on Chautauqua Lake. The “cottage” became a gathering place for her children and grandchildren, where countless memories were formed along with very close family ties. She would be so thrilled and so proud to know that her children, seven grandchildren, and 14 great grandchildren, have loved and still spend as much time as possible at “The Lake.” We all treasure the opportunity to continue wonderful family traditions. Anna Jane’s memory is always with all of us.

We speak of our special “Grandma,” so often, and recall so many precious times spent together. Having lived through the Great Depression, World War II, and several bouts with cancer, she faced her challenge with ALS, with courage. She has been a wonderful inspiration, not only to her children but also her grandchildren, who knew and loved her, and who have passed down her legacy of strength and love to her great grandchildren. She was such a gentle person with a beautiful smile, a great sense of humor, a warm and welcoming heart, and she loved all of us dearly. . .as we loved her.

Remembering Anna Jane