Karl E. Soltan July 20, 1923 – May 9, 2020
Karl E. Soltan, devoted husband of the late Helen (nee Sulak) Soltan and proud father of the late Karen R. Soltan, died peacefully on Saturday, May 9. He was the last surviving child of Louisa Wilhelmina (nee Obermeyer) and Emil Louis Soltan, and was preceded in death by his siblings, Richard Soltan, Sr., Ruth Knapp, Edna McKelvey, Louis Soltan, and Edward Soltan. “Uncle Karl” will be missed by his many nieces, nephews, and their children.
Those lucky to have met Karl throughout his long life might have thought his middle initial “E” stood not for “Edward” but for “enthusiasm.” He loved his life, despite its hardships. Orphaned at age seven, he was a grateful graduate of Girard College, and formed lasting friendships there. Shortly after graduation, he served in the US Army in New Guinea during World War II. On discharge he worked at Penn Fishing Tackle, where he met the love of his life, Helen Sulak.
Shortly after their daughter, Karen, was born, the couple moved from Philadelphia to Paoli, Pa., so Karl would spend less time commuting to his new job at the Burroughs Corporation. While raising Karen, a person with Down’s syndrome, Karl and Helen worked tirelessly to help her reach her full potential. Before the concept of mainstreaming was widely accepted, they enrolled Karen in Sunday school and community programs. They served as chaperones/guides on group trips for those with special needs; they cheered on Karen both as she competed in Special Olympics events and as she bussed tables at a neighborhood Wendy’s. Later, when Karen joined a sheltered workshop community, the Martha Lloyd School in upstate Pennsylvania, Karl set up carpools with other parents to help make the long trip home and back for the holidays and vacations easier for families.
Perhaps what made Karl so resilient, despite life’s challenges, was his strong faith. The family attended Advent Lutheran Church in West Chester for many years, and Uncle Karl never missed his weekly men’s Bible study: “A great group of guys.” Another great group of guys were his fellow Masons. Receiving his certificate for 70 years of membership was a proud moment for Karl.
A few years after his wife’s death, Karl became a member of St. Timothy Lutheran Church, Fox Chase, once he moved into the independent living section of the Philadelphia Protestant Home. He loved to walk around the community’s halls and grounds --greeting everyone with a smile, and the question that typified his approach to life, “Are you having a good day?”
Even as he required radiation for an aggressive skin cancer, and later moved to PPH’s Personal Care section, then the Memory Unit, Karl had no complaints, and told visitors, “I’m very fortunate.” Occasionally, just for fun – or was he hinting that his visitors had stayed too long? – Karl would sing a few lines of an old song: “Show me the way to go home/Oh, I’m tired and I wanna go to bed…/Show me the way to go home.”
Usually, as visitors then prepared to leave, Karl would say, “It was great being with you. Keep smiling.” Current circumstances mean family and friends can’t get-together to say good-bye to him. But there’s comfort in knowing that, finally at home, surrounded by God’s love and reunited with his family, Karl needs no reminders to smile. So, for now, we’ll just say, “It was great being with you, Karl.”
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PPH Benevolent Care Fund
6401 Martins Mill Road, Philadelphia PA 19111