Samuel A. Soter was born on August 8, 1924 to Anton and Maria Soter, Greek immigrants, in the small town of Clifton, OR, along the lower Columbia River. Sam attended a one-room school for five years with other children of immigrants. The family relocated to Portland where he attended Benson Polytechnic High School. After graduating in June of 1942, he worked as a journeyman welder and ship fitter in Portland until he enlisted in the U.S. Navy in December at the age of 18. He served nearly three years in the Navy in service of the Commander of the 7th Fleet aboard the USS San Clemente, AG-79, in the Asia-Pacific Theater.
Following his Naval service, Samuel returned to Portland to pursue his education at the University of Portland. He graduated in three years, Maxima Cum Laude in 1949, and was elected to membership in Delta Epsilon Sigma, a scholastic honor society, and Alpha Kappa Tau, a national service honorary society. At the urging of the Dean of the University’s business school, Samuel applied and was accepted to the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration. He earned an MBA with Distinction in 1951.
Sam met Stella Vokos at a Christmas party in1947 and they were married in 1950. After graduating from Harvard University, Samuel and Stella moved back to Portland to be near family. He began his career in engineering and consulting for a number of companies engaged in marine operations involved in the construction of several hydroelectric power projects along the Columbia and Snake Rivers. In 1960, Sam, Stella and their three young children relocated to southern California. Sam held top management positions in companies that manufactured precision metal components.
In 1978, Sam and Stella decided to semi-retire and relocated to Sonoma Valley, CA to be closer to family back in Oregon and also near their elder son, Tony, who was working in the Napa Valley wine industry. Sam owned and operated an office supply company, and was quite active in civic organizations, among them: Kiwanis Clubs, the Chamber of Commerce, Sonoma Valley Hospital board, and the United Way. Sam also joined the Masonic Order in 1965, receiving the 32nd degree in the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry in 1989. He devoted his spare time to the study of ancient history and published a book entitled The Hellenic Spirit in 2010. Sam was also a talented artist, draftsman and model maker. He especially loved to build scale models of sailing ships and tug boats.
Sam is survived by his wife of 69 years, Stella Vokos Soter, age 90, three children: Anthony Soter of Portland, OR, Gregory Soter, of Vienna, VA, Kathryn Soter of Sausalito, CA, six grandchildren: Loraine Burnham, Alex Heimbrodt, Nicholas Heimbrodt, Samantha Soter, Olivia Soter and Anton Soter, and one great-grandson, Mathew Burnham. Sam is preceded in death by his sister, Mina Roussos, his mother Maria Soter, and his father, Anton Soter. He will be laid to rest at Willamette National Cemetery.