Donald L. Solem, age 95, passed away peacefully at his home in Rice Lake on March 31, 2022.
The family moved to the Rice Lake homestead when he was 4 years old to live off the land
during the depression. He attended school at the Beyer School, Homecroft, and Central High
Don left high school to enlist in the Army Air Corps in 1943. He was too young to enlist so his
Mom had to sign his enlistment papers. While waiting to be called up, he decided to join the
Navy where he was immediately called to service in 1944. Boot camp at Farragut, ID then on to
proudly serve on the USS Saratoga CV3 in the South Pacific.
Upon his honorable discharge, he lived for a year with his sister and brother-in-law in Illinois
while working at the Caterpillar Plant. Don returned to Duluth where, with the help of his Dad, he
joined the Carpenter’s Union and began his career in construction. He remained a Carpenter’s
Union member for 75 years. Don was supervisor on many buildings throughout the Northland:
St. Luke’s West Wing, Benedictine Health Center, Grand Rapids High School, Mount Scenario
College in Ladysmith, and many others.
In 1960, he was a “Plank Owner” in the formation of Coast Guard Reserve Duluth, advancing in
rank, retiring as Commander.
Along with Family, God and Country, community was always very important. He served many
years on the Rice Lake Town Board, Volunteer Fire Department, and Community Club working
to bring many improvements that contributed to the success of the growing township.
He started the St. Louis County Hunting Shack Association to establish good communication
between lease holders and the County.
To honor his son’s service, Don came out of retirement to proudly supervise the construction of
the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on Duluth’s Lakewalk. He was very proud the Memorial was
built with all volunteer trades works and was honored to be part of its construction.
Don enjoyed spending time at the hunting shack, fishing Lake Superior, BBQs with family,
generally putzing around on all things on the homestead.
Preceded in death by his parents, Ebba and Ole Solem, sisters Helen and Laverle, brothers
Arnold and Elwood, mother of his children Shirley Solem.
He is survived by his children Kitten Hutchings (Jerry Anderson), Bruce Solem (Laura
Davidson), Brian Solem (Josette Pulliam), Laura Solem (Rod Booth); grandchildren Jennifer
Robertson, David Hutchings; 4 great-grandchildren; and partner Marge Eikanger.
We thank Dr. Steve Long for his years of compassionate care and St. Luke’s Hospice for
outstanding care in his final days.
In lieu of flowers, donations to the Rice Lake Volunteer Fire Department would be appreciated.
Funeral service at 11:00am, Thursday, April 7th at Family of God Lutheran Church, 4097 Martin
Road with visitation one hour prior to service.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Donald L. Solem, please visit our floral store.