A founding instructor of State Fair Community College died late last week.
Robert Lee Solomon, 87, died Friday in Overland Park, Kansas. Having served as both an instructor and dean at SFCC for 26 years, Solomon was known as a caring and thoughtful individual and professional.
"Bob Solomon was the consummate professional — tall, soft-spoken, and a man of his word,” former SFCC Board of Trustees President and instructor Gary Noland said. “We met in 1972 when all college staff shared the old Plywood U building.
“He came to SFCC as a biology instructor and served many years as Dean of Arts and Sciences,” Noland added. “His expertise in both roles helped lead the way for the beautiful campus and strong institution we have today."
According to his obituary, Solomon began his teaching career in Excelsior Springs where he taught high school chemistry and biology and served as science coordinator for the school district. He later taught at Park Hill High School in Kansas City. He and his family then moved back to Sedalia in 1968 and he became a charter member of the SFCC faculty. In 1972 he was appointed Dean of the Arts and Science division where he served until his retirement in 1994.
Solomon was named valedictorian when he graduated from Smith-Cotton High School in 1950. He attended Central Missouri State University (now the University of Central Missouri) in Warrensburg where he received his bachelors and specialist degrees. Solomon went on to receive a masters degree in science education from the University of Kansas in Lawrence.
Solomon was named as an “Outstanding Educator” in 1970, selected as the Dean’s Academy in 1987 and was twice chairman of the instructional dean’s section of the Missouri Association of Community Colleges, according to his obituary.
Solomon developed friendships with many of his colleagues that continued well past his retirement, according to those who knew and worked with him.
“As a friend and colleague, Bob was a true example of a caring, professional educator,” SFCC Trustee and former academic advisor Jerry Greer said. “While at SFCC, he was very well respected in his roles both as a teacher and administrator. It was my pleasure to work with him for over 20 years.”
Fellow trustee and former theatre instructor at SFCC Ron Wineinger echoed the comments of both Noland and Greer.
“Bob was responsible for hiring me at SFCC,” Wineinger said. “He was patient, always had an optimistic view and was responsible for guiding a great team of teachers at the college.
“He was not a micromanager and believed in his employees,” Wineinger added. “I will always be thankful for that leadership.”
Debbie Noland was a student of Solomon’s in 1970. She was hired by Solomon as an English instructor in 1975.
"For me, and I’m sure for many other SFCC teachers through the years, Bob Solomon was the quintessential mentor,” Debbie Noland said. “Leading by example, he gave us the best possible role model. In both classroom and extracurricular matters, he offered his views while respecting ours.
“He was a man of gentle authority, unpretentious and humble, consistent and fair, reasonable and wise,” she continued. “But most importantly, he genuinely valued us, and we loved him for that.”
In addition to his work at State Fair, Solomon was active in the Sedalia community. A member of Our Savior Lutheran Church, he served as Sunday School Superintendent for nine years, congregation president and vice-president, church council secretary, the board of elders and board of stewardship, according to his obituary. His obituary states he was also active in United Way of Sedalia-Pettis County, serving as budget and admissions chairman and on the campaign team, and in Boy Scouts, serving as Great Rivers Council vice president, an executive board and advisory council member, and council trustees chairman. He received the District Award of Merit and the Council Silver Beaver Award for his contributions to scouting.
Visitation for Solomon will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 2 at Our Savior Lutheran Church with the funeral service to follow at 11 a.m. Arrangements are under the direction of Heckart Funeral Home in Sedalia.