Robert R. "Bob" Soelter
Robert R. "Bob" Soelter, 91, passed away Friday, January 27th, at Abilene.
We are tipping our hats to Robert "Bob" Soelter. Bob was raised in Wamego, KS by Vera and Erich Soelter along with his sister Elaine. It was during this time he met his future wife Ruth "Sherry" Morris at a church camp.
Bob was always a lover of hats and had a reason to wear many throughout his life. The first official hat in this series was the one he wore during his time in the ROTC at the University of Kansas. He followed this with a mortarboard when he graduated with a degree in Business Administration from Kansas State University in 1939.
That same year he married Sherry. In their 69 years together they would share a love for jazz, travel, and cooking. They also had three children, Eric, Michael, and Laura who gave them six grandchildren. While supporting his family, Bob would don a couple more hats, the first of which was a fedora he wore as a young businessman working for Kresge Co. and then for Duckwall's in Salina and later in Abilene.
His career began with him pushing boxes of trash up from the basement at Kresge's and eventually led to him becoming President and CEO of Duckwall-Alco where he served until his retirement in 1988. His signature hat during these years was a yellow Caterpillar baseball cap, captured in many pictures at company picnics and parades (much to the chagrin of his wife and secretary who later teamed up to shred this hat).
Recognition was given to him by several organizations. In 1982, he was announced Executive of the Year by Kansas Business News Magazine. In 1986, he received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the College of Business Administration at Kansas State University. In 1987, he was selected as the Chairman of the Board of the National Association of the Country's Retail Chains.
After leaving Alco, his next adventure with Sherry began including travel, family, and friends new and old. He collected a new hat--each with its own story--in every country they visited. These years were also filled with raising grandchildren and staying active in the community. Sherry and Bob enjoyed being parts of the Arts Council of Dickinson County, Abilene-Minori Sister City and attending Topeka Jazz Workshops.
We want you to know that none of these wonderful memories would be possible without the love and support of those who worked for Bob at Duckwall-Alco and many wonderful friends and neighbors over the years. On behalf of Bob Soelter, we would like to say, "Hats off to all of you." A Celebration of Life will be announced at a later date.