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In Loving Memory - Mrs. JoAnn Soderquist

In Loving Memory - Mrs. JoAnn Soderquist

Sometimes we are blessed to have people in our lives that not only support our great ideas, but also support our failures. Such a person was JoAnn Soderquist, who passed away on Friday, December 1, 2018, after an 8-year battle with breast cancer. She was a fighter. I got to know Mrs. Soderquist over the last 20-years through my relationship with her son—my good friend, Mark Soderquist. Several years ago, while presenting an idea for a new Entrenuity concept at the Soderquist Center for Leadership and Ethics in Bentonville, AR, I learned a valuable lesson from Mrs. Soderquist. For most of my presentation, I focused mainly on Don Soderquist—her husband—former Chairman & Chief Operations Officer (COO) of Walmart, who was seated fairly close to me. Mrs. Soderquist was seated at the end of the table, listening politely. About midway through my presentation, as I was thoroughly engaging Mr. Soderquist, Mrs. Soderquist stopped me and gently said, "Young man, you might want to occasionally look this way, too. I’m very involved with the decisions made at the foundation.” To say I got “checked” would be an understatement. I quickly found out who actually ran the foundation. Lesson learned: never let perception cause you to underestimate or under engage your audience, even on friendly grounds. Over the next several years I also witnessed Mrs. Soderquist’s love for her family and her passion to serve. She served on a number of boards and was an active volunteer. Of all her volunteer efforts, her commitment to Lake Geneva Youth Camp and John Brown University were among the highlights. Without the invitation from Mark Soderquist to get to know his family, not just as financial supporters of Entrenuity, but to really get to know them, I’m convinced Entrenuity would not have the impact we have today. Anyone fortunate enough to have had a matriarch like JoAnn Soderquist involved in their life should be thankful for the lessons learned and the servanthood modeled. I know I am. Mrs. Soderquist, I will miss you until we meet again.

L. Brian Jenkins

 

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