J. Darwin Soder

Darwin was born in Wichita, KS and moved to Sarasota in 1979. He earned two M.A. degrees and taught Economics and Business at Southwestern College and at Wichita State University in Kansas. During 1962-63, “Jdar” served as a Ranger at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico instructing young men in wilderness camping skills.

In 1971 Jdar joined 200,000 fellow citizens in a powerful demonstration against the Vietnam War in Washington, D.C. 

He was careful not to be included among the 10,000 protestors arrested by police that week because he had already decided to seek government employment.   In 1972 he was hired as a Labor Economist with the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While working for the U.S. Maritime Administration in 1976, he earned a rare civilian assignment to attend the Naval War College in Newport, R.I.  To report for duty in Newport, Darwin and three friends motored his live-aboard 36’ diesel-powered Gibson houseboat 600 miles up the Intercostal Waterway (including 60 miles of open Atlantic Ocean, which few house boaters dared to enter) and survived a near miss from hurricane Belle while anchored in a small harbor on Delaware Bay. 

One year after his resignation from Federal service in 1978, Jdar sailed a 29’ sailboat from Washington accompanied by his brother David, landing in Naples, FL.  In 1980 he accepted an assignment teaching personal finance to sailors aboard a US Navy warship while it cruised the Mediterranean. A year later he moved his live-aboard home to Sarasota.  The next three years were filled with cruises to the Dry Tortugas, a island paradise 70 miles West of Key West, FL and a 1500 mile three month tour of the Abacos in the Northern Bahamas in 1983.  In 1984 Darwin started a money management business from which he retired in 2003. He may be best remembered as the Founder of the Mutual Fund Investors Association in Sarasota, which educated more than one thousand local investors in the art of mutual fund investing with monthly lectures at Selby Library from 1985-1990. Soder took pride in exposing three local investment scams he had uncovered by pretending to be a client of the unscrupulous firms. 

Darwin was a member of the Sarasota County Archers from 1985-1995 and served as its Treasurer in 1992-93. He achieved a 1st place ranking in Olympic style archery competition in the Florida Sunshine Games held in Sarasota in 1992. From 2002 to 2011 he served as Treasurer with HUSBAY. Jdar attended the Citizen’s Law Enforcement Academy sponsored by the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office in 2009. He was an avid sailor, motorcyclist, and a student pilot. In retirement, Darwin has enjoyed many summers touring North America in a small motor home. He is a dedicated financial supporter of the Freedom from Religion Foundation, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State and The American Humanist Association. He ardently believes in Science rather than superstition.