The Florida State University College of Business is mourning the passing of E. Ray Solomon, the college’s longest-serving dean, who died Jan. 21 in Tallahassee at age 89.
“We are heartbroken at the loss of Dean Solomon,” said Michael Hartline, the college’s current dean. “He was a remarkable person and leader who was admired and loved by students and colleagues alike and who left an indelible mark on all of us who knew him.
“He had a significant impact on the college, the university and the Tallahassee community, and we are truly grateful to him,” he said.
“Ray demonstrated great character as dean and he led with a quiet confidence,” said Pamela L. Perrewé, the Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor, and Haywood and Betty Taylor Eminent Scholar of Business Administration who joined the college in 1984. “He did not try to stand out — he preferred to blend in with the rest of the faculty. I will always appreciate his kindness, warmth and leadership. As a young professor, I learned much about leadership from him.”
Born and raised in Carrabelle, the oldest of two sons, he graduated from Carrabelle High School, where he was class president, played football and basketball, and played the saxophone in the school band.
One of three seniors in his class to attend college, Solomon graduated from the FSU College of Business in 1951 with a bachelor’s degree in marketing. He served in the U.S. Army for two years, and later in the reserves for six years. He worked in the insurance industry for six years before returning to his alma mater to earn a master’s degree in risk management and insurance. He went on to earn his doctorate, also in risk management and insurance, at the University of Wisconsin.
Solomon’s career at Florida State spanned 35 years, beginning in 1962 when he joined the faculty as a professor of risk management and insurance. He became dean in 1974, serving during a period of great change and growth for the college. During his tenure as dean, the School of Business became the College of Business, enrollment of undergraduates increased significantly, and the college expanded and diversified by adding many new majors. Solomon was instrumental in the development of the Real Estate program, which now ranks No. 11 nationally. The graduate programs grew and flourished during this period. In addition, he played a major role in guiding the philosophy of “individual attention” that has been key to the college’s success. Stepping down from his position as dean in 1991, he become the college’s first Midyette Eminent Scholar in Risk Management and Insurance before his retirement in 1997.
Solomon earned numerous honors during his time at Florida State, including induction into the inaugural College of Business Charles A. Rovetta Faculty Hall of Fame in 2017. He also received the Vires Torch Award from the FSU Faculty Senate and the Ross Oglesby Award for outstanding contributions to students. In 2012, Solomon received the Florida State University Circle of Gold Award, which recognizes worthy individuals who, through their service and achievements personify the university's tradition of excellence.
He was a member of Beta Gamma Sigma, Delta Sigma Pi and Lambda Chi Alpha fraternities. He especially enjoyed the E. Ray Solomon Golf Classic, organized by business college alumni and students, held annually at the university gold course to raise funds for student scholarships.
Solomon served his community in many ways. He was a member of the board of directors of Florida State Bank, SunTrust Bank and Bankers Insurance Group, and past president and one of the founders of Goodwill Industries of the Big Bend. Active in the Capital District Boy Scouts of America, he received the Silver Beaver Award and was recipient of the 2014 Distinguished Citizen Award.
He served on the boards, chaired or was president of most every organization of which he was a member, including the Tallahassee Kiwanis Club, Economic Club of Florida, Tiger Bay, United Way, Southern Scholarship Foundation, Tallahassee Memorial Hospital and the Tallahassee Memorial Hospital Foundation, for which he was recognized as Outstanding Trustee. He was past general chairman and underwriting chair for the TMH Golden Gala, and honorary chair for Golden Gala XIX.
He received the Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce Lifetime Leadership Award in 2004. He was recognized as Philanthropist of the Year Award by the Big Bend Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, and the Southern Scholarship Foundation established the annual E. Ray Solomon Community Service Award.
Solomon also faithfully served for over 55 years the First Baptist Church, where he was on the board of deacons and past chairman, and taught Sunday School for many years.
He is survived by his beloved wife of 65 years, Mary Ann Wansley; daughter Susan, and grandsons Bruce and Connor Patterson; and son Earl, Jr. and grandsons Ray and Luke Solomon. He is also survived by a sister, Kay (Ronnie) Strickland, and numerous nieces, nephews and in-laws.
He was predeceased by his father, Earl P. Solomon, mother Ruth Hance Yates, and brother Roy Hance Solomon.
His love for his faith was first in his life, followed by his love for family and friends., He loved teaching at FSU, and developed long-lasting friendships with many of his students. He also loved spending time at his cottage on St. George Island.
A memorial service will take place at 1 p.m. Friday, Jan. 25, at First Baptist Church in downtown Tallahassee. A reception will immediately follow at the Governors Club.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that those wishing to honor his memory donate to The E. Ray Solomon Presidential Scholarship at FSU Foundation (F01012). The mailing address is Gift Services, FSU Foundation, 325 W. College Avenue, Tallahassee, FL 32301-1403. Please put the name of the scholarship fund in the notes field of the check. Or a donation can be made to the E. Ray Solomon Endowment at the Southern Scholarship Foundation, at 322 Stadium Drive, Tallahassee, FL 32304. Please include the name, E. Ray Solomon Endowment on the memo line of the check.