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John K. Solomon

Company G-1

1 Oct1938- 30 Mar 2020

Place of Death: Fredericksburg, VA,

Interment: Arlington National Cemetery

It is with great regret and sorrow that I must notify you of the death of our classmate, John Solomon, on March 30, 2020, in Fredericksburg, VA, after a long, valiant battle with Parkinson’s disease.

John is survived by his wife, Mary Jane; their daughter, Mary Anne (Molly) and her husband Geoff Russell; their son, Christopher; their daughter, Mary Katherine (Katy) and her husband, Spencer Jones; and their grandchildren, Campbell Jones, Hayden Jones, and triplets, Jonathon, Alexandra, and Madeleine Russell.

John Solomon's funeral mass will be at 11 AM, Tuesday, 28 July at St. Patrick Catholic Church, 9149 Elys Ford Rd, Fredericksburg, VA  22407.  Attendance at the church is limited to 100 people.  Face masks are recommended.  St. Patrick's will video the funeral mass.  I will provide the link when available.  Mary Jane will host an outdoor reception at her home, 10907 Cedar Creek Drive, Spotsylvania, VA  22551-4687, following the mass.  Please let me know by reply email if you plan to attend. 

Burial will be at Arlington National Cemetery at 11 AM, Wednesday, 29 July.  Attendance at the gravesite is limited to 50 people.  Those attending should meet at the designated Administration Building parking lane at 10:15.  Attendees must wear face coverings and maintain social distance guidelines.  Please let me know by reply EMAIL if you plan to attend. 

Further details can be found at https://www.arlingtoncemetery.mil/Media/News
/Post/10863/Arlington-National-Cemetery-Implements-Military-Funeral-Honors-with-Modified-Escort-and-Increases-Funeral-Participation
.  Please pay particular attention to the requirements for face coverings and ID cards. 

Out of an abundance of caution, the family regrets that it has cancelled the reception following burial due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Condolences may be sent to Mary Jane and her family at 10907 Cedar Creek Drive, Spotsylvania, VA  22351.

Well done, John. Be thou at peace.

Remembrances:

Class Memorial Pages\G-1 John Solomon.pdf

In Memory

John Solomon ('61) - Class Of 1961
John Solomon ('61)

Mail Address for Mary Jane Solomon:  10907 Cedar Creek Drive, Spotsylvania, VA, 22551

John's obituary follows this previously posted information.

In the meantime, please enjoy some of the creative talents of my good friend and Executive Producer Emeritus of the West Point Alumni Glee Club, John Solomon: grandfather, father, husband, soldier, author, composer, musician, friend and mentor. 

The picture is of John directing the WPAGC in rehearsal prior to singing for a major event in 2015

 

 

During cadet days, John was part of the "Spirits," writing, arranging and singing many of their songs.  Here is a small example.  Music is an original recording.  We apologize for the video quality.  Effects of time!  The Spirits (Click this for more)

In 2015 at the passing of Al Bornmann, USMA '67, John wrote the following poem to honor Al's (and many others) service to our country.  His words are fully applicable to John and his life of service.

.

Rest in peace John.  "Well Done!"

Colonel John K. Solomon, (Ret), 81, passed away at his home in Central Virginia after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.

He was born at Ft. Bliss, Texas and raised in a military family. Following graduations from high school in Paris, France, he entered the Army Reserves. John attended the USMA Prep school and graduated from West Point in 1961. He received his Master’s Degree in Mathematics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. John attended the US Arm Artillery & Missile School, the US Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and the US Army War College.

John’s military assignments included: Corporal and Sergeant Systems, Vicenza, Italy; 105 Howitzer Command, Fort Sill, Oklahoma; Operations Officer, Americal Division; Artillery Direct Support 105mm Howitzer Battalion, Republic of View Nam; Battalion Command Lance Missile System, Crailsheim, Germany; Assistant Professor of Mathematics; Regimental Tactical Officer, USMA; The Joint Staff; Ops and Plans, SETAF, Vicenza, Italy; Department of Army Staff; The Washington Liaison Office, The Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force.

Decorations include: The Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Air Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Bronze Star, Vietnam Cross Unit Citation with Palm, Parachutist Badge, Army Ranger Tab, Army General Staff Badge, and Joint Chiefs Staff Badge.

Following his military career, John joined the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology Faculty, Alexandria, where he taught mathematics and directed the school’s Mentorship Program until he retired in 2004.

In addition to his overall achievements, music and theater were his hobbies. The family unit was always a primary focus in his thoughts. Every day was a new adventure and educational experience whether traveling off to a new destination or on an athletic field. Everyone was taught to do their best, develop and appreciate all the God given talents. Respect, admiration, counsel, and enthusiasm were always present. Prayerfully, his shining example will be handed down to his dynasty.

John was a loving husband, father, and grandfather. He is survived by his wife, Mary Jane; his son, Christopher, Winthrop, Washington; his daughters, Mary Anne (Molly) Solomon, and Husband Geoffrey Russell, Winter Park, Florida, and Mary Katherine (Kate), and husband Spencer Jones, Longwood, Florida; five grandchildren, his brothers, Colonel Wm. V. Solomon (USA Ret) Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and James H. Solomon, Vienna, Virginia. John was preceded in death by his parents, Brigadier General M.A. Solomon (USA Ret) and his wife Molly Solomon.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Tuesday, July 28 at St. Patrick Catholic Church, 9151 Elys Ford Road, Spotsylvania.

Interment will take place on Wednesday, July 29 in Arlington National Cemetery.

The family requests that a random act of kindness be given to someone of your choice in John’s memory.

“And when our work is done, Our course on earth is run, May it be said, “Well done; Be thou at peace.”

Obituaries:

John K. Solomon
October 1, 1938 ~ March 30, 2020 (age 81)

Colonel John K. Solomon, (Ret), 81, passed away at his home in Central Virginia after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.

He was born at Ft. Bliss, Texas and raised in a military family. Following graduations from high school in Paris, France, he entered the Army Reserves. John attended the USMA Prep school and graduated from West Point in 1961. He received his Master’s Degree in Mathematics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. John attended the US Arm Artillery & Missile School, the US Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and the US Army War College.

John’s military assignments included: Corporal and Sergeant Systems, Vicenza, Italy; 105 Howitzer Command, Fort Sill, Oklahoma; Operations Officer, Americal Division; Artillery Direct Support 105mm Howitzer Battalion, Republic of View Nam; Battalion Command Lance Missile System, Crailsheim, Germany; Assistant Professor of Mathematics; Regimental Tactical Officer, USMA; The Joint Staff; Ops and Plans, SETAF, Vicenza, Italy; Department of Army Staff; The Washington Liaison Office, The Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force.

Decorations include: The Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Air Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Bronze Star, Vietnam Cross Unit Citation with Palm, Parachutist Badge, Army Ranger Tab, Army General Staff Badge, and Joint Chiefs Staff Badge.

Following his military career, John joined the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology Faculty, Alexandria, where he taught mathematics and directed the school’s Mentorship Program until he retired in 2004.

In addition to his overall achievements, music and theater were his hobbies. The family unit was always a primary focus in his thoughts. Every day was a new adventure and educational experience whether traveling off to a new destination or on an athletic field. Everyone was taught to do their best, develop and appreciate all the God given talents. Respect, admiration, counsel, and enthusiasm were always present. Prayerfully, his shining example will be handed down to his dynasty.

John was a loving husband, father, and grandfather. He is survived by his wife, Mary Jane; his son, Christopher, Winthrop, Washington; his daughters, Mary Anne (Molly) Solomon, and Husband Geoffrey Russell, Winter Park, Florida, and Mary Katherine (Kate), and husband Spencer Jones, Longwood, Florida; five grandchildren, his brothers, Colonel Wm. V. Solomon (USA Ret) Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and James H. Solomon, Vienna, Virginia. John was preceded in death by his parents, Brigadier General M.A. Solomon (USA Ret) and his wife Molly Solomon.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Tuesday, July 28 at St. Patrick Catholic Church, 9151 Elys Ford Road, Spotsylvania.

Interment will take place on Wednesday, July 29 in Arlington National Cemetery.

The family requests that a random act of kindness be given to someone of your choice in John’s memory.

“And when our work is done, Our course on earth is run, May it be said, “Well done; Be thou at peace.”

Assembly/Taps Memorial Article:

JOHN K. SOLOMON  1961

Cullum No. 23438-1961 | March 30, 2020 | Died in Fredericksburg, VA
Interred at Arlington National Cemetery, VA

 

John Knapp “Johnny” Solomon  hated to be bored. To Johnny, as his wife and close friends called him, boredom was a failure of imagination. There were too many 10Ks to run, places yet to visit, songs to play.

Johnny was born at Fort Bliss, TX into a family that bled Army Green. His father was a West Pointer who would become a brigadier. Two brothers also would become Army officers. After graduating from high school in Paris, Johnny became a private in the Army before enrolling at the USMA Prep School. He entered West Point in 1957. He took the military seriously—no one knew how to stand more ramrod-straight—but, even then, he was an oddity: He loved show tunes and singing; he played piano by ear. At West Point he sang in the Glee Club and was involved in numerous 100th Night Shows. Upon graduation in 1961 the yearbook commented wryly that it wasn’t appropriate to list all Johnny’s talents because this was an annual for a military academy, not a conservatory. 

Assigned to Vicenza, Italy, he spied a striking young nurse through the canned peas at the base commissary. He thought she would be perfect for the lead role in The Fantasticks, which he was directing. Then the leading man got sick. Johnny stepped in—and fell in love with Mary Jane Fenzel. For 55 years of marriage, she would be the solid ground beneath him, always packing their bags for the next big adventure he was constantly dreaming up, soon with three young blonde children in tow.

Johnny’s field artillery expertise drove many of his assignments: 105 Howitzer command at Fort Sill, OK (1966); a tour as an operations officer in the Americal Division and in a howitzer battalion in Vietnam (1968-69); and, later, Crailsheim, Germany for a battalion command of a Lance Missile System (1974-76). Before going to Vietnam he had received a master’s degree in mathematics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY (1968). He would return to West Point twice: first, to teach math to cadets as an assistant professor of mathematics (1969-72); later, as tactical officer for the second regiment (1977-80).

In Vietnam, Johnny would trot around LZ Bronco in his combat boots. Running became his daily ritual. At West Point he would rise in the dark to run with the cadets into the pinking dawn. And there was always music: While at West Point, he produced musicals, including Godspell, and he was officer-in-charge of the cadet Glee Club.

There also were assignments to the U.S. Marine Corps Command and Staff College at Quantico, VA (1973) and the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, PA (1977), as well as three assignments to “the five-sided building.” When he retired as a colonel in 1986 after 26 years in the military, though, Johnny rarely spoke of his years of service. He had a drawer full of medals—Bronze Stars, Legion of Merits, Gallant Y Cross, Defense Superior Service Medals and Joint Chief of Staff Badge—that he never mentioned. To him, tomorrow was always more interesting than yesterday. He spoke often, though, of the ideals of the Long Gray Line that guided his life: Duty, Honor, Country.

In “retirement” Johnny turned again to mathematics. For a decade he taught math at Thomas Jefferson High School for science and technology, a magnet school in Alexandria, VA that attracted some of the region’s brightest students. He disliked math’s reputation as unapproachable. In calculus, instead of talking of functions, domain, and range, he’d tell students, “Plug that number into the mothership!” For five years after that he coordinated the school’s highly regarded mentorship program, sending students to learn at places such as NASA and NIH. He also served as executive producer of the West Point Alumni Glee Club in the Washington, DC area.

Those are the dates and titles. But they don’t capture nearly enough of who Johnny was. He adored watching the team formerly known as the Redskins. He wrote frequent, long letters to his children, and to Mary Jane. He had godawful handwriting. He was a merciless kidder. He was fueled mostly by cold Pepsi, spaghetti all’Amatriciana and Mario’s sub sandwiches. He loved aphorisms: “You live for others”; “Do good and disappear.” He could be uncompromising and hard to please, and he made his children grow up saying, “Yes, sir,” and “No, sir,” as if they were plebes. He demanded the best, always—of his cadets, his math students, his children. He knew you were capable of great things, if pushed. “Everything bends to hard work,” he would say. He always was there to help if you showed him you were trying. “I never close!” he’d say. He usually got your best from you—the definition of a leader.

Sometimes, when he told his wife or children how much he loved them, his voice would quaver and his eyes would grow wet and he would nearly break into tears. Hs children had learned too well from him, though, and now they mercilessly teased him for his tenderness. He loved that, too.

In 1996 Johnny became a Roman Catholic. His faith consoled him even as he suffered from Parkinson’s disease for two decades, which made his last several years grueling. But he also had the gift of Mary Jane unfailing beside him, and who always was ready to accompany him, whatever tune he struck up.

As Johnny wrote of a fellow West Pointer in his poem “The Guidon”:

Today an Old Soldier was laid
to his rest
A gallant Warrior was he,
He gave a lifetime of service to Country,
For brothers like you and like me. 

— Christopher Solomon, son, and family