Mark Soden, a retired Orange County Superior Court judge who embarked on a legal career after working as a Wisconsin cheesemaker and serving as a Navy pilot during World War II, died Friday of pneumonia. He was 86.
An appointee of Gov. Ronald Reagan, Soden served as a Superior Court judge from 1972 to 1986. He held several assignments, including supervisor of the court's family law, probate and appellate departments.
The University of Wisconsin graduate enlisted in the Navy in 1941. During World War II, he flew B-24s on anti-submarine patrols over the English Channel and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, according to his daughter, Mary Ann.
After the war, Soden earned a degree from USC law school. He practiced for 24 years as an attorney, representing plaintiffs and defendants in civil cases before his appointment to the bench. He was president of the Orange County Bar Assn. from 1960 to 1961.