John Alfred Sotto Jr. was born on January 14, 1927. His father John Alfred Sr. and mother Martha Impi (Cook) lived in Portland, but John and his siblings Robert and Evelyn would all be born in Cle Elum, Washington, because Gramma Sotto (Margaret Jane Rees) was a midwife.
John’s father, US born of Belgian and Welch ancestry, was disabled in the US Army in World War I. He received a small disability payment the remainder of his life. John Sr. died in 1967 of pleurisy, a painful lung condition that the family believed was caused by exposure to Mustard Gas during his short stateside WW I Army duties.
His mother Martha was the daughter of a Leadville, Colorado, Finnish couple. Her father Peter Cook (Kokkila) was a miner who died at 38. Her mother remarried and moved to Bisbee, Arizona, and later to Oregon, where Martha met and married John Sr.
John Jr. grew up for a few years in Portland and later on the Oregon coast in Garibaldi. The home that they lived in was built by his father. Gramma Sotto apparently gave John and Martha $2,000 silver dollars, which was used in the construction of their home. $10/month payments were made on the house. It was at 115 Driftwood Ave. in Garibaldi. An interesting note about the house: John Sr., being mildly disabled, took many jobs throughout his life. The claw foot bathtub in the house, according John Jr., came from author Jack London’s yacht that he and his father salvaged. John Jr. often said of his dad, “I never saw him undertake anything that he couldn’t do.”
During the 1930s and early World War II years, life was good, but cash was scarce for the Sottos. John Jr. had a nick name that his mother always called him, Sunny. They enjoyed the simple things in life. John Jr. had pet deer when he was boy. It became very familiar with the family, and when the door was opened in the morning, it would come into the house and jump into bed with John. They fed the deer. In later years when John and his father were away during WW II, John’s mother Martha saw some grown deer behind the house. She called out to the doe, and it came to her.
John Jr. (from here on referred to as Dad) often said that “when the tide went out the table was set.” Meaning that they gathered much of their food from tide pools and fishing. Dad loved clams, crab, and other seafood. When he was a young man, he worked in a seafood processing company. He said that he processed 200 dozen crab a night, and he could have all that he could eat as part of this compensation.
Dad went into the Navy near the close of WW II. His training was at Farragut Naval Station in Idaho. He served on two US Navy destroyers - the Kimberly and the Sigsbee. The Kimberly was on its way to Japan in 1945 when the war ended. It escorted the Battleship Missouri back from Japan following the signing of the surrender.
Following WW II, Dad tried his hand at flying. When his GI Bill funding ran out, he started to travel. He and a friend left Oregon and traveled to Idaho and Utah. He stopped for gasoline at a Flying A station in Lorenzo, Idaho, and never made it any farther in his travels. 21-year-old John had met 15-year-old Joan. Her parents owned the station and had a small farm nearby.
They worked in potato fields together. John was offered lodging in an old school bus by the person who owned the fields they were working in. They were soon married. In preparation for the marriage, John had gone to Pocatello and secured employment with Idaho Power Company.
At first he climbed power poles. Joan pulled many long splinters from his chest. As children came, they went to Arco, Idaho, where Dad was working for Idaho Power Company. It was an office where he essentially performed nearly all the field tasks. Joan didn’t really like living in Arco, so the family moved back to Pocatello where they settled for the next several decades.
Patricia Ann and Sherry Lynn were the first children to arrive. Judy Kaye arrived several years later, and Richard Brian was the caboose.
Dad served in the Army National Guard for many years and retired as the Command Sargent Major, responsible for much of the unit’s war readiness posture. He spent many summers in Boise at summer training exercises. It was always an event when the redeploying National Guard troops convoyed back from Boise and the families of the returning guardsmen would line the side of the freeway as the trucks rolled into town. There were also annual parades in Pocatello that the National Guard marched in.
The years from the move to Boise through the end of Dad’s life were years busy with family. The girls were grown and marrying and having children. John and Joan helped where they could and created an environment where many happy memories were created - camping, boating and having family parties.
In 1971 Dad transferred to Boise with Idaho Power Company. He was a System Dispatcher. He bought and sold power from other power companies throughout the country and managed the power grid.
When Dad was 63, his oldest daughter Patricia lost a battle with breast cancer. Just seven years later, daughter Sherry would succumb to the same.
When Dad was 78, he lost Joan. He was very nurturing and loving in the 25-year battle that she had with polycythemia. In advice to his children, he would often say, “when they’re gone, they’re gone for a long time.” Dad missed Mom.
Dad then lived in his own home until he was almost 90. Following a toe amputation due to diabetes, we finally convinced him to move in with daughter Judy, but just for a short time . . . Judy’s cooking was better than Dad’s. Very quickly realizing this, Dad sold his car at 90 and lived with Judy until he passed away in his sleep holding Judy’s hand.
Dad’s favorite thing to do? Go to Jackpot. Hobbies when younger: wood working and cars. He built his and Joan’s first home. Dad loved fishing.
Daughter Patricia Ann Sotto married Wayne Russell of New York. They are survived by John Russell (Jaime). Daughter Sherry Lynn Sotto married Timothy Plunkett of Idaho. Sherry is survived by Timothy (Ginny), Christy Plunkett-Hillier (Eric Jones), Mark (Natalie), Heather Vargas (Mark), Lisa DeLong (Brian), April Plunkett, Eric (Brandi), T.J., Matt, and Scott. Daughter Judy Kaye Sotto married Steve Markel of Idaho. Their children are Brian Dougal (Stephanie) and Toby Dougal (Beki). Son Richard Brian Sotto married Elayne Perry of Idaho. Their children are Collette Elton (Brian), Kellie Luke (Matt), Danna (deceased), Jillianne Roberts (Matt) and Mitchell Sotto (Sherri). John and Joan have 15 grandchildren, 39 great-grandchildren and at least five or six more who are honorary grandchildren.