Sam Solon

Sam Solon, 70, of Duluth passed away Friday, Dec. 28, 2001.
Sam, who never forgot his Greek heritage or the city he grew up in and loved, was remembered by his Lord and brought home to the Eternal Kingdom.

Helping people was Sam's passion in life and his legacy. Born June 25, 1931, during the Depression to poor immigrant parents, Sam knew what is was like to live during harsh and uncertain times and devoted the rest of his life to giving his family, friends and neighbors a better future. He helped support his family by selling newspapers in downtown Duluth and working on the ore docks, at the Colerator plant in West Duluth, and at the U.S. Steel plant in Morgan Park. Soon after graduating from Central High School in 1949, Sam was drafted and served in the Army in Germany from 1952 to 1954. After he returned to Duluth, he earned a teaching degree at the University of Minnesota Duluth and in 1958 became a social studies teacher at Stowe Junior High School and later at Morgan Park High School.

In 1970, Sam ran successfully for state representative and in 1972 was elected state senator representing Duluth. For more than 30 years, the persistence, patience and skill he displayed as a street side newspaper hawker, student, soldier and teacher made Sam one of the most influential and respected members of the Minnesota Legislature and a tireless advocate for the people of Duluth. He was instrumental in the expansion of UMD, the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center and the I-35 project, as well as being a key supporter of the Lake Superior Zoo, the Depot and the Northwest Airlines maintenance base. His legendary fairness made it possible to pass important projects in a sometimes contentious and partisan legislature. Democrats and Republicans alike could rely on Sam.

But Sam's many accomplishments and contributions didn't end at the state Capitol. He was a member of the YMCA, American Legion,VFW, Elks, Moose Lodge, Rotary Club 25, Minnesota Federation of Teachers and Minnesota Education Alliance, as well as numerous boards. He served as chapter president and district governor of the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association, of which he had been a member since 1956. Sam's busy schedule never kept him from being an active and leading member of the Twelve Holy Apostles Greek Orthodox Church of Duluth, where he was choir director, chanter and parish councilor.

Sam was preceded in death by his father, Nicholas Solon; a son, Nicholas; and his first wife and mother of his children, Carole Solon Schwanz.

He is survived by his wife, Yvonne (Kamp) Prettner Solon, and mother, Dimitra Solon, both of Duluth; children Jon (Janet) Solon of Chelan, Wash., Chris Solon of Duluth, Dina (Mark) Webb of Duluth and Vicki (Robert) Smoyer of Maplewood, Minn.; stepchildren Shelley (fiance Terry Pulling) Radelat of Duluth and Matthew Prettner of Eden Prairie; grandchildren Stephen Webb, Robby and Matthew Smoyer and Justin Radelat; brothers Louis Solon of Deerfield Beach, Fla., Chris and Vlasie Solon of Duluth; sister, Bessie Solon of Duluth; nephews Jerry Solon and Erik Ekstrom; nieces Sara Solon, Kristina (David) Solon-Boe, Robin Kling and Kristen Ritchie.

May his memory be eternal.
VISITATION: 3-7 p.m. Friday with a 6:30 p.m. Trisagion at the DECC Auditorium where service will be 11:30 a.m. Saturday. Burial in Forest Hill Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to the Sam Solon Scholarship c/o UMD. Arrangements by Dougherty Funeral Home, 600 E. Second St.
FYI: Sen. Sam Solon touched the lives of many in the Northland. We'd like to know how he touched yours.

If you have a story about Sam Solon that you'd like to share, send it to city editor Jaci Gardell-Smith, Duluth News Tribune, 424 W. First Street, Duluth, MN 55802. You can also e-mail your thoughts to:

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