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updated: 7/25/2012 7:33 AM

Former national VFW leader, state senator Ray Soden dies

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  • Judge John Darrah, left, swears in Ray Soden into the Illinois Senate at the VFW hall in Wood Dale in 2003.

      Judge John Darrah, left, swears in Ray Soden into the Illinois Senate at the VFW hall in Wood Dale in 2003.
    Daily Herald File photo


SPRINGFIELD -- Ray Soden of Wood Dale, a former national head of the Veterans of Foreign Wars who served a brief stint as Republican state senator from DuPage County, died Sunday.

Soden, 88, served as head of the VFW in 1973 and 1974 and was a Navy veteran of World War II.

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And it was veterans issues that defined his time in the Illinois Senate, where he served in 2003.

"That was sort of his hallmark," Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno said Tuesday.

Soden was appointed to a seat in the Illinois Senate in 2003 following the retirement of former Republican Senate President James "Pate" Philip of Wood Dale.

Soden served the remainder of Philip's term, then chose not to run for election that November. He was eventually replaced by state Sen. Carole Pankau, an Itasca Republican.

Radogno said Soden's experience in the military showed itself during a Memorial Day service in Springfield.

"He was able to describe actual combat," she said.

When he left the Senate, Soden was praised for his "gentlemanly elegance."

Before his time in Springfield, Soden served as DuPage Forest Preserve president in the 1980s and early 1990s.

He is survived by wife, Shirley, three children and six grandchildren.

A visitation will be held from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday at Geils Funeral Home, 260 W. Irving Park Road, Wood Dale. Services will be at 11 a.m. Saturday.

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