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In memory: Ed Sorenson

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Ed Sorenson died on Sept. 26, and will be memorialized Wednesday.

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Mr. Sorenson, 96, operated Sorenson's Bait Shop on the Chain O'Lakes in Antioch for decades.

Click here for the News-Sun obit on legacy.suburbanchicagonews.com.

Of partiuclar note from the obit are the concluding sentences:

A memorial graveside service will be held at 12:30PM, Wednesday, October 19, 2011 at Hillside Cemetery, Antioch. A memorial visitation will be held from 10AM-12Noon Wednesday at the STRANG FUNERAL HOME OF ANTIOCH, 1055 Main St. (Rte. 83) Antioch. INFO 847-395-4000. In lieu of flowers, those desiring may make contributions to the Antioch Rescue Squad, in his memory. Please sign our guest book for Eddie at www.strangfh.com.

Joe McFarland, a fellow writer and somebody who truly appreciated Mr. Sorenson and knew him well, sent this:

Dale,

I don't know if you heard about the passing last Monday of one of the few greats among our kind: Ed Sorenson, 96, of Sorenson's Bait Shop in Antioch.

I've attached a photo [above] of Ed testing the ice outside his bait shop a few years ago, back when he was merely 93.

In a few weeks Ed would have turned 97.

Sorenson, who continued operating his landmark bait shop by himself up until recent months, was simply one of the most remarkable outdoor interview subjects I have ever known.

As a living witness to outdoors history, Sorenson became my go-to guy for historical facts about hunting and fishing around the Chain O'Lakes during the early to mid 20th century.

I could call him up to ask a question Google couldn't answer.

Who else could tell you, first-hand, about hunting on the Chain O' Lakes during the Armistice Day Blizzard of 1940? Or the incredibly warm winter of 1931-32--the warmest on record--when there wasn't enough ice to cut blocks for the ice houses? Or the first raccoon pelt that showed up in Lake County? (Who knew raccoons weren't always a common mammal here? I didn't.)

Sorenson lived it all. And his memory was astonishing. Here's an example: Living in southern Illinois, I could stop by his Lake County bait shop only once every couple of years. Meanwhile, thousands of customers would pass through his bait shop, different faces, different names. Add to all of those faces and names to the thousands of faces and names a man in his 90s has already known.

Then I would step inside Sorenson's Bait Shop for the first time in a couple of years and he would look up and say, "Hello, Joe."

He seemed to defy age. And his kindness and courtesy was unmatched.

Dale, I could fill a novel with stories about his long career. I could also fill a book with examples of things Sorenson would do in his 90s that guys in their 20s wouldn't do. I remember the day I stopped by for an interview about ice fishing, the day I snapped this picture.

He had already been fishing early that morning and had some clean crappie filets on ice. Sorenson was generous to a fault. He offered the filets to me, in case my own fishing didn't pan out.

Beside fishing that morning and cleaning his catch, he'd already made a batch of beef stew that morning.

"You hungry?" Sorenson asked. I had barely acknowledged that I'd skipped breakfast when he strode into the back room and began fixing a bowl for me, setting a place at his table. He poured me a cup of coffee.

This all seemed to happen within seconds of me walking in the door.

He had a way of doing things for you that your own mother would find hard to match. Before selling you a crappie jig, he would make sure no paint was clogging the eye of the hook. He's use a needle to poke out the clogged paint.

As a businessman, he always gave you more than you paid for. A dozen minnows meant you got 20 or 30 minnows. When his minnow supplier raised the price, he absorbed it. When the price rose again and again, Sorenson finally had to choose between giving customers only 12 minnows when they bought a dozen or raising the price. He reluctantly raised his price. But customers still got more than they paid for.

That morning I asked if he wouldn't mind stepping outside for a few pictures, and maybe test the ice. I somehow forgot I was asking a 93 year-old man to walk out to the lake in January to chop a hole in the ice.

He was out the door before I could retract my thoughtless request.
No matter. He was down the hillside and waiting for me at the shore. Watching him slam the bar into the ice with the agility of a teenager, I honestly thought Ed Sorenson would live forever.

I thought he might outlive us all.

But here's the sad news I never wanted to read:


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4 Comments

That was a beautiful tribute that brought tears to my eyes. My husband has known Ed for 50 years and I knew him for 26 of those years. EVERYTHING you said in your post nailed Ed to a tee. I know because he acted the same way with us. Ed was one in a million, a true gentleman and a kind soul. I will miss him but my life is better for having known him.

Just to be plain, that tribute was written by Joe McFarland.

Just like Lou and Kim, I've known Eddie for over 50 years. My first visit for bait was an ice fishing excursion with Dad back in the 60's. When I was told to keep the spikes from freezing. With a wink and nod Eddie told me to put the little mealy worms between my cheek and gum to keep them warm. I'll never forget the man that made a lasting impression on me over the decades. The man that overpaid for muskrat furs to keep two teenagers in gas money and finance many of our other outdoor adventures. Sharing a sunset on Lake Antioch with Ed meant you were going to bring home a pail of Crappies and Bluegills. Ed never quit giving or enriching everyone around him with kindness and knowledge. It's hard to believe one man could influence so many people but he did with grace and class. RIP Eddie

Man, I just drove by the bait shop today, sign was down, found this on google.. Man sad, only knew him the last 15 years (Im younger). But very very very good man, will be missed by many!

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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on October 18, 2011 9:26 AM.

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