Paul Jerome Solberg, age 79, of Decorah, IA, passed away peacefully early Tuesday morning, November 28, 2017 at Aase Haugen Senior Services in Decorah, surrounded by his family.
Born on October 2, 1938 in Spring Grove Minnesota, Paul was the son of Alphy and Agnes Benora (Harstad) Solberg. One of twelve siblings, he grew up on a farm, tending to chores and sharing in the responsibilities of raising livestock and planting crops. He graduated from Spring Grove High School in the class of 1957. An avid sports enthusiast and athlete in high school he earned 17 letters in football (5), basketball (4), track (4), and baseball (4) before graduating from Spring Grove High School in 1957.
Enrolling at Luther College in the fall of 1957, Paul participated in football and track, lettering three years in football and four years in track. He was a member of the ‘L’ Club and Kappa Phi Tau as well as serving as freshman and sophomore class president and on the CHIPS staff. His senior year he was elected to the Who’s Who of College and University Students. Expanding his deep love for sports and activity, he majored in physical education and obtained his teaching certificate. Upon graduating in the spring of 1961, he accepted a position at Buffalo Lake Minnesota where he taught physical education and coached football, wrestling and track. While teaching at Buffalo Lake he earned his Master’s degree from Mankato State University in 1966 and also learned of a position opening at Luther College, applied and was hired. Returning to his alma mater in 1966, Paul began his 35 year journey of teaching and coaching in the physical education and athletic departments. His favorite course to teach was Adaptive Physical Education which paired college students with youth from school districts in and around the Decorah area. While at Luther College he did additional graduate work at the University of Iowa. During his Luther tenure he served in many positions including assistant football coach from 1966-2001; assistant track coach from 1966-1967; head wrestling coach from 1966-1980 and 1982-1983; head tennis coach in 1975; and head baseball coach from 1977-2001; assistant athletic director from 1966-1983; athletic director from 1983-1992. He was inducted into the Luther College Athletic Hall of Fame in 2001 and the National Wrestling Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2005.
Paul married Carolyn Marie Myhre, daughter of Arnold and Alice Myhre of Spring Grove, on August 1, 1959 at Trinity Lutheran Church in Spring Grove, Minnesota. She asked him to her junior prom, they started dating, and were married for 58 years. During his junior and senior years at Luther College they lived in the married student housing (barracks) across from the current pool location in Decorah. Together they shared in his love of coaching and the mentoring of student athletes. It was not unusual for them to house the entire wrestling team in their basement over campus holidays while the dorms were closed. Numerous meals and countless loads of laundry made for a family atmosphere that demonstrated his care for his teams.
Paul enjoyed the outdoors, working in the yard and garden, fishing trips to Canada with colleagues and former athletes, fishing the trout streams of Winneshiek County, and golfing. He was a long time member of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, serving on numerous committees in addition to congregational president.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his siblings: Lyla (Kenneth) Smith, Naomi Solberg, Alden Solberg, Helen (Bud) Fink, Charles (Pat) Solberg, and Robert Solberg; and brother in-law Orville Flaten.
Paul is survived by his wife Carolyn; daughter Jean Solberg of Dixon IL, son Brian (Denise) Solberg of Decorah; four grandchildren: Amanda (Adam) Johnson, Stephanie Kennay (James Robinson), Kalle Solberg and Keaton Solberg; five great-grandchildren: Colette Johnson, Alana Johnson, Milton Johnson, Elijah Robinson and Ezekiel Robinson; brothers: Stanley (Carol) Solberg of St. Peter, MN, David (Eileen) Solberg of Hiawatha, IA and Donald Solberg of Hokah, MN; sisters: Margaret Flaten of Sparta, WI and Judy Ashbacher of Lansing, IA; sister in-law Judy Solberg of Des Moines, IA; and many nieces and nephews.
In lieu of flowers, memorials can be given to Luther College, c/o Development Office, 700 College Drive, Decorah, IA 52101, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 701 Iowa Ave., Decorah, IA 52101 or Aase Haugen Senior Services, 4 Ohio Street, Decorah, IA 52101.