Eric Tennyson Sollee

Obituary
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  • "Our deepest sympathy to the family of Eric Sollee and..."
    - John Long
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DOVER — It is with great sorrow that we announce the death of Eric Sollee on June 30, 2008 from complications of a stroke. Eric Sollee was born in Louisiana on Feb. 15, 1926, to Oben Sollee of Norway and Dolores Lichauco Sollee from the Philippines.

As an American citizen living in the Philippines, Eric was captured at age 14 with his father by the Japanese army and held in difficult conditions at the Santo Tomas Internment Camp. After three years, they were rescued and set free by General MacArthur just at the time the execution of American prisoners was being planned. After World War II and graduating from Newton High School, Eric served briefly in U.S. Army in Korea, where he was introduced by a fellow soldier to fencing, which would become the passion of his life.

He returned to the U.S. to enter Harvard College in 1948, where he met a classmate and fellow lover of classic literature, Natalie Dosick, whom he married in 1952. At Harvard, Eric made captain of the fencing team and made All-American his senior year. At age 73, Eric was inducted into the Harvard Varsity Club Hall of Fame.

Eric joined the staff at the Carroll Center for the Blind (CCB) in Newton, Mass., where he was first employed as shop instructor but soon became fencing instructor to the blind. The fencing program became an indispensable part of the curriculum at CCB as it was found to enhance blind students' sensory abilities, coordination, mobility and confidence. So well-trained, some of Eric's blind students won fencing matches against some of his blindfolded MIT students. Eric's work at CCB became an inspiration to him throughout his life even after retirement.

Eric became head fencing coach of the MIT men's team in 1972 and started the women's program in 1974. He was named NCAA Coach of the Year in 1980 and had trained some notable students who competed in the Olympics. After "retiring" in 1994, he continued to be indispensable as assistant fencing coach at Harvard as well as teaching at the Boston Fencing Club and the Seacoast Fencing Club in NH.

Those who knew Eric also knew of his intense love of his wife and family; he also loved attending operas with his wife, traveling to Germany to see his son's family, skiing, riding his moped around town and taking care of his wife, Natalie, during her recent illness.

He was predeceased by his sister, Rita Stanton. He leaves behind his beloved wife of 56 years, Natalie; their three children, Brand Sollee (and Anne-Strillinger-Sollee), Alison Sollee (and Gary Usher), and Jessica Sollee as well as four grandchildren, Alexander and Cassandra Sollee, Jason and Sara Usher. He also leaves his beloved Aunt Jessie of Manila, Philippines.

A service celebrating Eric's life will be held in the Cambridge area in October 2008 to be announced. For further information about this service, please contact CoL4ericyahoo.com Please send contributions in memory of Eric Sollee, to the Carroll Center for the Blind, Inc. 770 Centre Street, Newton, MA 02458.

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Published in Fosters from July 11 to July 12, 2008