Always with a smile, always interested in her customers’ lives, Patti Soper-Roodzant was for years a friendly face at the cash register at Everett’s Safeway on Broadway.
“Her work ethic was amazing. She was a genuine, sweet, caring, loving person,” said Mary Nearing, a Safeway cashier who saw every day how her friend dealt with customers. “She’d been here for so long, over 30 years.”
Soper-Roodzant, of Marysville, was killed in a car accident east of Stanwood on Sept. 12. Her Toyota RAV4 collided with a Subaru at the intersection of 268th Street SW (Stanwood Bryant Road) and 28th Avenue NW. The other car’s driver suffered injuries that were not life-threatening.
A 1976 Everett High School graduate, Soper-Roodzant was 60. She was born May 24, 1958, to Les and Dorothy Soper, and was part of a family with deep roots in the Marysville area.
“Soper Hill was named after her grandpa, Charlie Soper,” said Dennis Roodzant, Patti’s husband of 33 years. “He was logging that hill.” Decades ago, the family had a mill and shingle business in north Marysville.
Roodzant said his wife retired about a year and a half ago. She had worked at the B&M grocery and a Marysville Safeway before moving to the north Everett store.
“I’m finding out she had way more friends than I knew,” Roodzant said. “She made it a point to really know people.”
She truly did. As a frequent shopper at the Broadway Safeway, I knew her only as “Patti.” Somehow, she always greeted me by name. She knew my kids’ names, and what my family was up to. She’d ask if we were going to Idaho for a vacation.
She was part of day-to-day life for anyone lucky enough to be in her check-out line. That she greeted everyone in a friendly way is confirmed by online comments shared when her obituary was published in The Herald.
“As a Safeway customer for decades, I had the pleasure of interacting with Patti on a weekly basis. I can still hear her voice and see her beautiful smile,” wrote Everett’s Shana Sloan. Linda Wright, of Everett, commented that “I was one of those customers waiting in Patti’s line at Safeway … the light at the end of a shopping trip.”
Co-workers also experienced that warmth. Amanda Jordan, who has worked six years at the Broadway Safeway, said Soper-Roodzant was one of the first people who helped her feel part of the store’s team, including taking her to a union meeting. “I will forever be grateful for everything she taught me,” Jordan said.
Part of the Teamsters Union, Soper-Roodzant represented co-workers as a shop steward.
Along with her husband, she is survived by her daughter, Jessica McLellan, sons Roger and Vance Roodzant, brother Leon Soper, sister Linda St. Onge, and by a large and loving extended family.
It includes what Soper-Roodzant knew as her “ElkDuck” family.
ElkDuck is what the Sopers and Roodzants call their annual hunting camp, a gathering on public land outside Ellensburg. It was started in the 1940s by Charlie Soper, and now includes dozens of family members.
“She started going there when she was 13 months old and never missed a year,” said Dennis Roodzant, 69, who knew Patti’s brother and met his future wife at the camp. “She didn’t actually hunt. She just took care of the hunters. That was her happy place,” Roodzant said.
“We’ve gone our whole lives,” said St. Onge, Patti’s sister. “We got out of school to go. It was a huge bonding time for our family and our closest friends.”
St. Onge said her sister “had more friends than I could ever have.”
“She would take on their burdens and share their stories,” she said. “She was a great sister.” She was a wonderful aunt as well, said Anna Soper, whose dad is Patti’s brother, Leon Soper.
Anna Soper said her Aunt Patti’s work ethic likely came from her father, Les Soper. “They had a homestead on the bottom of Soper Hill Road — the address is Sunnyside Boulevard,” she said. “Patti’s dad was born in that house in 1922. He’d drive the school bus in eighth grade. He was the last one on the route.”
After working in the family’s mill, Les Soper owned a gas station and his own towing business.
Her aunt “had this fun, free spirit,” Anna Soper said. “And even though she grew up in sort of a small town and had a blue-collar job, she loved art and theater. She was always interested in learning something new.”
Soper-Roodzant loved Boston Terriers. Her husband said that when the accident happened, she was on her way to Lynden to see a dog she hoped would join their family. “We just had to put her little Boston Terrier down last April,” Roodzant said. “Believe me, any dog she had was a very happy-home dog.”
When Anna Soper graduated from Marysville Pilchuck High School in 1999, her aunt made her an amazing scrapbook. Looking at it recently, she was reminded of her aunt’s sunny spirit.
In her keepsake book is a notation: “This scrapbook was made for you for your 1999 graduation by Auntie Patti — the fun one.”
Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Celebration of life
A celebration of life to honor Patti Soper-Roodzant is scheduled for 1 p.m. Sunday at the Marysville Opera House, 1225 Third St., Marysville.