VOLUME 19 #3

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Jim Soles changed my life

Alumni and others whose lives were touched share their memories and thoughts.

Catherine Soles Pomeroy

I never had Dr. Soles for a class, but I have many wonderful memories of him and probably learned more from him than most of his students ever did. He was my father.

I know you will receive several messages from his former students. I even know what many of them will say, because they've been sharing their memories with me for the past year. But I wanted to share some of my memories, because I think I have a somewhat different perspective.

My dad's former students often tell stories of ways he changed their lives, or pointed them in the right direction, or believed in them when they didn't believe in themselves. But what I remember is how they touched his life, inspired him and kept him going when his poor health or my mother's got him down. I remember him telling the story of a young man who spent years in foster care but stayed focused on his goals and worked hard so that he could beat the odds and go to college. That student inspired my father to give his all in the classroom even when he was ill, because that kid had earned the best possible educational experience. I remember how proud he was when that same young man got into law school, got a great job at a law firm and went on to start his own company. 

He often talked about another student who was ready to drop out of school. They met on a day when my dad was exhausted, sick, and just didn't know where he would find the strength to keep teaching. The two made a deal that they would both try to stick it out for that school year. They would support each other, encourage each other and not let each other give up. That deal lasted long beyond that school year and continued until the day my dad passed away last year.

I could share many such stories, because he told them frequently.  He bragged about his students like they were his own children. I remember his grin and how he would glow when he had big news to share—Moses made Law Review! Bob's going to be Director of the Republican State Party! Did I mention that Len was appointed to the U.S. District Court? (Yes, Dad, you've mentioned it every time I've seen you this week!)  

I know many of us sometimes wonder if what we are doing with our lives is worthwhile, if we are making a difference. My dad never had to ask that. His students showed him the impact he had through their accomplishments, their gratitude and their phone calls and visits.  


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