The Columbia Press Newspaper in Warrenton, Oregon

Warrenton's Community Newspaper since 1978

August 29, 2014 edition

Wesley Soukkala

Wesley Daniel Soukkala

April 12, 1958-August 19, 2014

By Dennis L. Dunn

Wesley Soukkala, a fixture at Warrior games and in our community, passed away on August 19, 2014.

Wesley was an athlete, hunter, fisherman, friend to all, and husband to one, Nikki Soukkala. Wesley was born on April 12, 1958, the youngest of seven children of George and Elsie Soukkala. As the baby of the family, Wesley was loved and doted on by both of his parents.

The Soukkala homestead is on Airport road on Old Highway 101. Wesley lived there, or a block away in his log cabin, for all but a handful of his 56 years.

Wesley hunted and trapped with his father. He helped raise pigs behind the bunk house. No fish in the stream was safe when Wesley cast his rod upon the waters.

Of all his siblings, Wesley was closest to his sister, 2½ years his senior, Rayla Soukkala Goldberg. They played games together, loved and respected each other.

Rayla vividly recalls two memories, both of which ended with, "Wes and me hugging each other with ecstatic joy, jumping up and down to celebrate. The first was walking together through the gates of Disneyland for the first time in 1970. The other occurred in the middle of the night. We rescued a giant, netted Japanese float from the surf on the Warrenton beach! That float still hangs in our childhood home."

Wesley had an infectious grin and was probably the cutest kid in his class. Girls swooned and giggled around him. On the playground, he was always chosen first or second when picking teams. He never had a harsh word for those of us with lesser ability. Everyone thought of Wesley as their friend.

As a student, Wesley was loved by his teachers and got good grades. They selected him as one of two honor students as he graduated from 8th grade.

In sports, he excelled. On the baseball diamond at WHS he was grace in motion. On the basketball court he was a magician. He explained his acrobatic moves by saying they were instinctive, "I really don't plan them."

Wesley was inducted into the Warrior Hall of Fame in 2010 for his prowess on the baseball diamond and his community service work.

Following high school, Wesley graduated at University of Oregon and then enlisted in the Air Force.

While stationed in Alaska he started officiating basketball games. He flew to many remote Alaska villages as a referee.

On one fateful trip, in 1985, the bush plane he was in landed on a frozen river and flipped over. Others were bruised; Wesley's spinal cord was crushed. He spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair, paralyzed from the waist down.

He was transported to the medical facility near Palo Alto, Calif. Family and friends such as WHS classmate Ronny Davis and neighbor Danny Dunn, dropped everything to visit; to pray; to cry and comfort.

Gradually, Wes improved. He was able to go home to Warrenton. But pain was his body's unwelcome guest for the remainder of his life.

Please read this week's issue of The Columbia Press for the entire article.


About The Columbia Press

Located at the mouth of the Columbia River, The Columbia Press is the independently-owned weekly newspaper for the city of Warrenton, Oregon. Since 1978, The Columbia Press has covered local community news and events throughout Warrenton, Hammond and Clatsop County. The Columbia Press is the official legal public notice publication for the City of Warrenton and the Warrenton-Hammond School District.

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Gary Nevan, Publisher/Editor


160B N.E. 5th Street P.O. Box 130 Warrenton, OR 97146

Phone: 503-861-3331


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