OBITUARY

Malvern "Gene" Eugene Soper

July 2, 1925May 21, 2021
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Malvern "Gene" Eugene Soper was born on July 2, 1925 in Richmond, Indiana and passed away on May 21, 2021 in Carlsbad, California and is under the care of El Camino Memorial - Sorrento Valley.

Visitation will be held on May 29, 2021 at 10:00 am at El Camino Memorial Chapel, 5600 Carroll Canyon Road, San Diego, CA 92121. Committal Service will be held on June 10, 2021 at 10:30 am at Miramar National Cemetery, 5795 Nobel Dr, San Diego, CA.

You may leave a message for the family by clicking here.

Services

  • Visitation

    Saturday, May 29, 2021

  • Committal Service

    Thursday, June 10, 2021

Memories

Malvern "Gene" Eugene Soper

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Tanya and John Dorocak

May 29, 2021

Dear Chuck and Barbara,

We are sorry for your loss. May your memories comfort you in this difficult time.

You are in our prayers,

Tanya and John Dorocak

Chuck Soper

May 29, 2021

He was kind, generous and the greatest Dad ever. He made wonderful Irish coffee every St. Patrick day. He kept learning and exploring new technology to keep his mind active. He loved all of his family. I will miss him.

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Biography

Malvern “Gene” Eugene Soper was born on July 2nd, 1925 at home in Richmond, IN to parents Malvern Perry Soper, aged 22 at the time, and Kathryn Barbara Soper (Fee), aged 18. Being both young parents, the Depression hit the family especially hard eventually necessitating them moving in with the elder Malvern’s parents until he was finally able to find stable work at a local manufacturer.

Although just a child at the time, the deprivations of small town life in 1930s Richmond left an indelible mark on Gene. Families and friends would sometimes just up and leave to try and regain their footing with new opportunities. But the area was blessed with an active civic scene, good schools and a strong sense of community. Though both parents came from Catholic backgrounds, they eventually found themselves joining the Society of Friends in the mid-1930s where they remained active in the Friends Church.

In the spring of 1943, Gene competed with 80 other seniors for coveted spots in the Navy V-12 College Program and was accepted along with four others from his graduating class. While he had initially hoped to go into medicine, he instead decided to transfer to the Midshipman’s School located in Chicago in October 1944. He graduated as a commissioned Ensign on March 29th, 1945 at the tender age of 19. He soon shipped out to the Philippines for his first tour of duty, visiting the cities of Mindanao and Manila though owing to it being the last few weeks of the war he saw no active combat.

After the war, Gene opted to return to Indiana, civilian life and his education attending Earlham College where he met Joann Gifford. He graduated with the class of 1949 eventually taking a position at Schenley Laboratories in 1949 located in nearby Lawrenceburg, IN. He married Joann Gifford and a few short years later in 1953 they had a son, Charles.

By this time, Gene had opted to return to the Navy as a commissioned officer. The Korean War was in full swing and Gene’s first tour of duty was on a converted anti-submarine destroyer utilizing new sensors, weapons and fire control equipment. Gene rose up through the ranks serving on the U.S.S. Beal and U.S.S. Ault until transferred to San Diego from Norfolk, VA. During the Vietnam War he was assigned a one-year tour in Japan and given command of the U.S.S. Duncan (DDR-874) followed by the U.S.S. Bridget (DE-1024).

In 1964, Gene and the family were transferred to Newport, RI where he joined the staff of the US Naval War College. After four years there they returned to San Diego, CA where he ultimately achieved the rank of Captain and was put in command of the U.S.S. Prairie (AD-15), a Dixie-class destroyer tender.

In 1969, Gene and Joann decided to divorce. Soon after, Gene met Jacqueline Rose Murray and they were married in January of 1971. In the fall of that year Gene took a position as the Professor of Naval Science at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia commanding the Naval ROTC unit. He served in that capacity for four years before opting for an early retirement in 1975. The next few years saw the couple move between San Diego and Jacqueline’s ancestral home in Villefranche-sur-Mer located on the French Riviera before finally settling on the latter by the early 1980s.

After the death of his wife Jacqueline in 2003, Gene opted to return to San Diego in 2004 settling in Carlsbad just a few miles from his son, Charles. The next decade and a half saw him rekindling old connections and creating new ones both with his own and the family of Jacqueline’s son, Paul Murray, who is located in nearby Encinitas.