Teresa L. Sorensen was born in Wakefield on June 6, 1959 to her parents Russell and Hazel Sorensen.  She attended elementary school in Wakefield, NE and later transferred and graduated from Pender Public High School in 1978. While in high school, Teresa was active in sports. She had a very successful track career.  Teresa's events were running and long jump. Her team mates nicknamed her “frog” because of her jumping ability. She still holds school records in the long jump and 800 meter relay today. 

After graduating from high school, Teresa moved to Omaha and attended Cosmetology school. She worked in numerous other fields until she found her calling at the fire department.  She became a fire fighter on the Omaha Fire Department in October of 1989.  Teresa was in the second hiring class that allowed women on the job.  During her 10 years of service, she was #4 female on the roster.  During her time on the fire department, Teresa attended Southeast Community College and received her Associates degree in Fire Science.  After retiring from Omaha Fire Department in December of 1999, she worked as a manager at Quest labs.

Teresa enjoyed spending time with family and friends. She loved the outdoors.  She enjoyed sailing and riding her bike around the lake. Teresa loved to travel and go on adventures. She went on several missionary trips to Guatemala. Teresa was very faithful and loved Jesus with her whole heart.  She was a prayer warrior for those that were in need of prayer.  Although she never had any children of her own, she loved and cared for her nieces, nephews, great nieces and great nephews as if they were her own.  Teresa was always their biggest supporter and went to their events when she could.  Teresa had her faithful companion, Bailey a chihuahua, with her where ever she went.  Many of us felt she spoiled and pampered her over the 20 years she had with her, but she would always correct us by saying she was not spoiled but blessed.    

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My Dear Friend

Shared by Lisa Connor on February 25, 2021
I am Lisa Connor and I am proud to say that Teresa was my best friend for more than 30 years.  We met when we were hired with the Omaha Fire Department on October 30, 1989.  We were the second fire class that had hired women so we were met with some tough challenges in working in a "Man's Job".  There were 3 women, Teresa, myself and our other dear friend Judy Howard.  We all worked hard to overcome the bias, and discrimination that we faced on a daily basis but we were so determined to do the job and prove to not only the men, but to ourselves that we could perform our duties and do it even better than many of the other men.  Teresa was as tough as nails.  She never backed down from a challenge and gave 110% in everything she did.  She worked in the busiest areas of Omaha, always wanting to be were the action was.  We 3 women worked the same shift so we would run into one another at many calls and fires.  Teresa and I were also work out buddies.  We knew we needed to stay in shape to perform our duties so we would meet in the mornings at Gold's Gym before our shift started at 5am and work out till approximately 6:30 am.  We would head to our stations and then work our 24 hour shifts.  When we would get off work the following morning at 0700 hrs we would meet back at the gym and workout with weights and then decide if we would go run, or go for a bike ride for our cardio.  Sometimes we would meet for breakfast especially if we had a busy night or a working fire that kept us up all night or an interesting run that we were on an wanted to share with each other.  The things we went through and the stuff we did and had seen on our job is easy to tell other people, but unless you did our job it is difficult to understand.  We knew we could tell each other and it would be our "therapy" in dealing with the difficult parts of our job.  A couple of the stories that really stand out in my memory is when Teresa was on a medical run and she helped deliver her first baby.  As trained EMT's this was a skill that we could perform.  We usually had paramedics with us to, but sometimes the crew of 4 on the fire trucks were the only ones there for awhile.  She retold her experience of the baby's birth and could not hold back the emotions of witnessing and being present as she helped to bring God's greatest gift into the world.  We both had tears flowing as she recounted every detail.  This was one call that she, and obviously me, would always remember.  There were other babies after that, but nothing like the first one.  Teresa was an awesome firefighter as well.  She was assigned to Station 40 at the time, 45th and Military Rd in Omaha.  This was a busy fire station and her days were full of excitement day and night.  If a working fire would come in near her station and they were first tin, sometimes they would be there by themselves before any other rigs would get there.  Her Captain at the time trusted her and as a "team" they fought many fires, and she was highly respected by her crew and the other companies that they would go in with.  She loved to play practical jokes on the guys, as well as receive some in return.  No matter how hard things would get, she would always persevere and never complain.  A couple of examples come to mind.  Once she was on a medical run when the patient had a heart attack while in the bathtub.  If you can picture trying to get into a tub with someone unconscious and lift them up so someone else can get in there and help you get them out, and the patient has no clothes on and is wet from the water; these are the tough situations we face.  On this run Teresa was lifting the patient under the arms to get them over the side of the tub when she injured her back.  She said that you could hear the popping noises of her vertebrae as she successfully lifted them out.  Her crew knew she was really hurting but that did not stop her from helping them to continue doing CPR and caring for the patient.  It was only after they got back to the station that the true extent of her injury came to light.  She was off work for awhile but in true Teresa fashion would always do what she needed to get back to her crew.  She loved her job as a firefighter and EMT!!  Another run that she had was a working house fire and she and her Captain were advancing the hose line into the front door.  The Captain would always go in first and Teresa followed by pulling more hose in as they went in further.  She had turned around to pull more hose and when she turned back she could not see her Captain through the thick black smoke.  She called out, and went in a little further and then she knew something was wrong.  Her Captain had fallen through a hole in the floor and was held up only by his armpits.  With wearing the face pieces hooked up to our air tanks, it is difficult to talk and hear what each other is saying.  She said "I knew I had to get him out before he fell all the way through!"  "So with all my might, I got a good hold of his air tank and coat, and prayed to God that he would give me the strength to get him out."  She added that " I felt like I was as strong as an animal and I pulled hard and next thing I knew, he was laying on top of me as I fell backward onto the floor. "  This is just one example of the courage and bravery that she had while doing her job.  She proved herself over and over again the women can truly be great firefighters.  Teresa worked for 10 years as a firefighter on the firetrucks. She also got to be a driver many times as well and loved to drive the firetrucks and pump the water at working fires.  Her back injury had permanently scarred her and it finally took its toll on her continuing her career.  She was put on light duty, which meant a desk job, and the Fire Chief at the time was really harassing her and trying to force her to retire.  At the time, I really wanted her to fight the discrimination but she decided that she would not work for a company that treated the employees so poorly and through much praying decided to take early disability retirement.  The was true Trailblazer for women in the fire service.  Her strong work ethic, determination, grit, strength and her unwavering faith are truly admirable.  We remained great friends after she left the fire department.  I would help her with mock job interviews which was hilarious at times as she hated to talk about herself. She worked for Catholic Mutual Insurance group as a claims adjuster and would travel to various cities.  At first she really enjoyed it but the traveling got to be a lot.  She left there when she found out that they were paying her male co worker more than her and the managers denied it. She also worked for Quest Diagnostics as a a currier for medical specimens.  She then got promoted to a Manager at Quest and was in charge of Exam One, which provided medical physicals for various Insurance Companies.  This job had her working long hours and was very stressful for her.  She left this job as she wanted to spend some time with her ailing dad and the job just took up too much of her time.  I don't think she was truly happy in any of her jobs as once you have a job you truly love it is hard to do anything else.  Throughout the years I think I helped her move residences a gazillion times, or so it seemed. She bought a house in Ralston, NE and my dad and I helped her remodel some bathrooms and do other updates and then she decided to sell it about a year later. She also bought a lot and was going to build a house off of 163rd and Q St. After the foundation was in she decided against the house there and then moved into a house off of 144th and Maple street.  My family adopted her and she was always invited to any get together that we had. I would call her up when I made a pot roast as this was one of her favorite meals, but the potatoes and carrots had to be around the roast.  We still met for breakfast many times, and would also go to Fernando's Mexican for margaritas and chips and pico and the seafood enchiladas  We also took many vacations together including sailing the British Virgin Islands on a 40' sailboat that we were the only crew, many trips to Colorado for skiing, hiking, ATV'ing, white water rafting.  She loved the outdoors riding bikes, walks, jogs around the various lakes in Omaha.  She loved her family dearly and would fill me in on new births, we would pray for nieces and nephews who joined the military and prayed for cures for cancer and other hardships. She was there for me when my mother died.  We would share how much we missed our mothers and what they would think of all the things we got to do.   As I write this tribute, it is now 2 months after her death and there is not a day that goes by that I don't think of her and miss her more that words can say.  She was such a strength in my life and I know that God sent her to me for a reason. We shared so much faith, laughter, great times, and adventures.  Along with tears and losses.  I feel so blessed and honored to have had her on my journey through life and to forever call her my best friend, my sister in arms, my voice of reason, the person I could turn to with anything.  She was always there for me when I needed her the most.  A person can have lots of friends during their lifespan, but a good friend, a true friend, - like Teresa is truly one in a million!   I know for a fact that she is truly at peace in her heavenly home.  Reunited with her parents, other family and friends and of course Bailey girl!  She had such a strong faith in the Lord!  I will end this with a quote from the Book of Sirach, Ch. 9  Verse 10: " Discard not an old friend, for the new one cannot equal him.  A new friend is like new wine which you drink with pleasure only when it has aged."  Until we meet again my friend, rest in peace and may the blessings of the Lord continue to help heal our broken hearts.