Obituary for Loretta Solinger (Smith)
Loretta E. of Edina, Minn. (formerly of Minnetonka and Hopkins), welcomed to eternal life at the age of 84 after passing peacefully on July 9th, 2017.
Beloved wife of the late James Solinger, caring and devoted mother of Tim (Cheryl) Solinger, Renee Audette, Diane (Jerry Cook) Solinger and Kevin Solinger; loving grandmother of Ann (Josh) Ridder, Gretchen (Sam) Brenegan, Grayson Audette, Christopher Cook and Natalie Cook; and dear great-grandmother of Max Ridder. Survived by brothers Lloyd (Cheryl) Smith and Robert (Marie) Smith. Preceded in death by her husband, James; her parents, LaRell and Merle Smith; her two sisters, Audrey and Lois, and her two brothers, Donald and Leighton.
Loretta was born in Adrian, N.D., in 1932. She graduated from Nortonville High School in 1951 and after marrying Jim in 1954 and starting a family lived much of her life in the Twin Cities. Of the different interests that Loretta had throughout her life, the one that held a special importance to her and that drew her unflagging devotion was Hammer Residences, a provider of services and support to children and adults with developmental disabilities. She and Jim were very active supporters of Hammer and were involved in its mission in numerous ways. They were married for 45 years when he passed in 1999.
We will remember always Loretta’s kindness, her warm gaze, and her accepting and loving spirit that ran wide and deep, providing a seemingly endless measure of comfort for all who were blessed to have known her.
Family will greet relatives and friends on Saturday, July 22, from 10 to 11 a.m. at a pre-memorial service visitation in the atrium at Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Community Church, 155 County Road 24, Wayzata, Minn. Memorial service at the church at 11 a.m. Interment to follow at Resurrection Cemetery, 5555 Covington Road, Shorewood, Minn.
Flowers or memorials are appreciated. Memorials can be made in Loretta’s name to Hammer Residences.
Life Story for Loretta Solinger (Smith)
Loretta Solinger memorial card
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” - Romans 8:28
Loretta Solinger was the beloved wife of James Solinger and the caring and devoted mother of Tim (Cheryl), Renee Audette, Diane (Jerry Cook) Solinger and Kevin Solinger; the loving grandmother of Ann (Josh) Ridder, Gretchen (Sam) Brenegan, Grayson Audette, Christopher Cook and Natalie Cook; and the dear great-grandmother of Max Ridder. She is survived by brothers Lloyd (Cheryl) Smith and Robert (Marie) Smith. She was preceded in death by husband, James; her parents, LaRell and Merle; her two sisters, Audrey and Lois; and her two brothers, Donald and Leighton.
Loretta was born in 1932 in Adrian, N.D., and she grew up with her brothers and sisters on a busy family farm that annually produced fine crops of wheat and that maintained a flock of some 300 sheep. Varying numbers of cows, pigs and chickens and a few dogs and cats added to the day-to-day activity. As a young girl, Loretta did her share of chores around the farm which included helping with canning. The steady, good-humored resolve that she quietly displayed throughout her life can no doubt be partly attributed to growing up on a farm as well as braving her share of rigorous Upper Midwest winters.
Loretta attended school in nearby Nortonville. She was a very good student and especially enjoyed studying history and geography. In her high school years, she played basketball on the girls team and when she wasn’t busy with chores, school work or basketball she enjoyed going to Nortonville or Jamestown to see movies with her friends.
After graduating from high school in 1951, Loretta worked several years in Jamestown as a telephone operator for Northwestern Bell before marrying Jim in 1954. She later joined him on the East Coast, where he was stationed in completing his term of service with the U.S. Army. They were married for 45 years when he passed in 1999.
Following the completion of Jim’s military service, Loretta and Jim returned to the Midwest and eventually settled in Moorhead, Minn., where they began raising their family of four children and where Jim was employed for Northern States Power (NSP). In 1967 as a result of Jim’s transfer with NSP to the company’s Twin Cities headquarters, the family moved to Minnetonka.
Loretta loved her family deeply. She was very supportive of each of her children, and was actively involved in many of their activities and interests, which included music lessons, sports, scouting and church groups. While raising her children, Loretta had a gift for genuinely appreciating each one as a unique individual. She was patient and kind, and these qualities along with her sense of humor helped her to manage the daily challenges of child rearing.
In raising her children, Loretta modeled and instilled basic, timeless values: Be kind. Share. Say you're sorry. And forgive and forget, among others. She imparted these with an economy of effort that seemed natural to her, as she would use just enough words to make her point, and then no more, while managing to balance kindness with unmistakable resolve.
After her children were grown, Loretta cherished visits and phone calls from each of them, and she enjoyed hearing about what was new in each one’s life. Of her four children, Kevin lived the closest, and he reveled in his visits to her that occasionally included stopping at Starbucks on the way to pick up coffee and a cookie to enjoy while visiting her. Loretta delighted in sharing this about Kevin, and whenever she did her face would light up in a big smile.
Of Loretta’s many different interests, the one that held a special importance to her and that drew her unflagging devotion was Hammer Residences, a provider of services and support to children and adults with developmental disabilities. She and Jim were very active supporters of Hammer, were involved in its mission in numerous ways, and were commended on more than one occasion by Hammer’s leadership for their pioneering, forward-thinking views in supporting the organization.
Throughout her life, Loretta had a deep appreciation for nature and aesthetics, as at her core she possessed an artist’s eye and soul. She enjoyed working with ceramics and created several pieces that continue to be prized by her family. In addition to ceramics, she found a special joy in gardening, which included maintaining a rock garden in the backyard of her Minnetonka home. She was diligent in caring for her garden, and even maintained a notebook on various details about the plants that she chose for it. The end result each year was a rich parade of color, and it was all the more enhanced by the lilac and peony bushes that she grew elsewhere around her home. She also grew rhubarb and made a delicious rhubarb bread that was a family favorite.
Two other interests of Loretta’s were reading and music. She loved to read historical fiction, particularly about England and Ireland, as well as science fiction and fantasy and counted The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter among her favorites. In general, she loved all things British, and when it came to TV programs one of her all-time favorites was Downton Abbey. Her musical tastes ran strongly to the classical and the opera, and she especially enjoyed Luciano Pavarotti and the Irish Tenors. She also liked to keep current with the news, locally and worldwide, and she read the newspaper most every day.
Later in her life and while she was still able to drive, Loretta frequently got together with friends to play bingo and to chat over coffee. She also found enjoyment and fulfillment in assisting the elderly as a volunteer.
One of Loretta’s favorite pastimes was watching the Minnesota Twins. When asked about the team, she could offer insightful observations at any given time on the team’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as which players were on a hot streak. Her fondness for the Twins extended to her home, where posters of the Twins’ two World Series triumphs were proudly displayed, and also to her wardrobe, which included several Twins shirts and sweatshirts.
Loretta was well known by all who knew her for her gentle nature, ready smile and sense of humor. She had a way of sharing a laugh where she would crinkle up her eyes, tilt her head back, and leave those in her presence awash in her warmth and good spirit.
Loretta’s belief in God was the foundation of her life, and she lived her faith in a resolute and dignified way. When she experienced setbacks or disappointments, she endured these with grace and wisdom, and she had an ability to find humor and lessons even in life's most difficult moments. In conversations, she was not always the first to offer an opinion or to share her thoughts, but when she did they were well considered and reflected a sharp intelligence.
A life lived so selflessly and so generously for others as Loretta’s leaves a rich lode of memories to treasure. We will remember always her kindness, her warm gaze, and her accepting and loving spirit that ran wide and deep, providing a seemingly endless measure of comfort for all who were blessed to have known her.
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” - John 10:27-29