Raymond Louis Solari
Feb. 13, 1928-March 17, 2023
Menlo Park, California
Raymond Solari passed away peacefully on March 17, 2023. His great heart finally gave out just before midnight, and he’s gone on to his next Big Game. Born February 13, 1928 in San Francisco, he was the son of Antonio and Vittoria Solari, immigrants from northern Italy.
From earliest childhood, his dream was to play football at Cal and beat Stanford, a goal he accomplished in robust fashion. After graduation from Galileo High School, he went on to play guard and linebacker at Cal under the legendary Pappy Waldorf; the team played in three Rose Bowls. He was drafted by the Cleveland Browns and traded to the San Francisco 49ers, whose doctors advised that he not play professionally because of a back injury. He returned to Cal and earned a teaching credential, serving as a graduate coaching assistant under Pappy Waldorf. In 1952, he was drafted into the U.S. Army and sent to Korea, where he organized recreational programs, taught English grammar to NCOs, and ran the library.
In 1954, he accepted a teaching and coaching position at South Pasadena High School, where he eventually led the Tigers to five Rio Hondo League championships, four CIF championships, and a perfect season in 1969. In 1972, he returned to Northern California to coach the Menlo College Oaks, overseeing the team’s transition from a junior-college program to an NCAA division III team in 1986. In 1999, SPHS named him Coach of the Century and named its football stadium after him, a measure of the degree to which he influenced the lives of young men. His unique coaching style combined strict discipline, quirky humor, and compassion. He was much loved.
In retirement, he and his wife Constance traveled frequently to Italy and Kauai. They were long-time subscribers to the San Francisco Symphony, and for over forty years they hosted literary and artistic salons in their Menlo Park home. He was also founder and head of the Zot Party, a group of friends from across the political spectrum who gathered quarterly to discuss politics—luncheons informed by spirited debate and civility. Above all things, Raymond was a man devoted to his family—a loving husband and dedicated father whose most recent years were brightened by the presence of four glorious grandchildren.
He is survived by his wife of fifty years, Constance Hines Solari; his children, Robin Solari, Antonia Solari Moran (Robert), and Christopher Solari (Jennifer); and four grandchildren, Arthur, Harrison and Aiden Moran, and Violet Solari. Donations may be made to the San Francisco Symphony, U.C. Berkeley or an organization of your choice.
Tags: teacher/educator, sports