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Memorial Tributes, Volume 12
had a timely sense of humor. He understood human rhythms and how long or tense a session could become before nerves began to fray. During intense discussions on controversial technical issues, Sol would often break the tension with a quick joke. Sometimes he just told a joke that he liked, even without the tension. As a young engineer working on a power plant siting in Louisiana, most of the bayous on the map had been identified, many with the names of the families that lived there, for instance, the Jones Bayou or the Smith Bayou. One possible site had no name, and Sol had very carefully stenciled in the name “Howzit Bayou” in the same size/script as that of the map font. He could still recall 40 years later how he and the other S&W engineers could barely contain their laughter when the customer kept referring, in a deep Southern drawl, to the “Howzit Bayou” in their meeting.
Sol was always aware of his mission: to build safe, reliable power plants, to get power to the people, and to grind through all the details to their very end. He left no hanging threads, neither technical nor human.
Sol was devoted to his job, but after his retirement was finally able to find domestic bliss with his companion Joy Taylor and to spend time with his family: his son Paul and wife Dotty, and his daughter Nadine and her husband Jim Hubbell. He was crazy about his grandchildren, Rachel and Will, whom he tried to spoil; it was the one endeavor in which “Poppy” utterly failed, much to everyone’s (including Sol’s) delight.
As his health failed, it became impossible for Sol to leave the Washington D.C. area, and he spent a lot of time at the National Academy. One of his favorite spots for sitting was at the Einstein statue at the National Academy. It’s interesting that that spot appealed to Sol just as it does to legions of young students every day.