Hank Solterman Passes
Hank Solterman of the Greater St. Louis Dahlia Society passed away peacefully on December 5, 2018, following a long and exhaustive battle with Alzheimer’s disease. Hank was a member of the St. Louis society for 40 years and the Ritenour Garden Club of St. Louis for even longer. In fact, it was Oliver Ruffing and Rolla Zufall – members of both the garden club and the dahlia society – who got Hank interested in dahlias.
Hank served the dahlia society in a myriad of ways over the years. Professionally Hank was a salesman, and he sold the dahlia society at every opportunity by providing bouquets to a whole host of people. Some of those same people made it a point to visit the annual dahlia show at the Missouri Botanical Garden. Upon arriving, many would immediately ask “Where’s Hank’s flowers?” Most of us remember Hank’s competitive spirit and his willingness to do whatever he could to make society participation a positive experience for all members. He most coveted two Grand Sweepstakes Awards. Such was the case one year when a newer member and Hank locked horns in a friendly battle for Best “B” bloom (Queen of the Show). Hank’s entry eventually won, but once the competition was over, “Hank, the competitor” became “Hank, the teacher” and the suggestions he provided helped newer members immensely.
St. Louis hosted the only combined National and Midwest Conference Show, in the mid-1980s, and as part of the festivities, the show committee selected Hank’s dahlia patch as part of a garden tour. Besides dahlias, Hank also enjoyed raising vegetables and fishing with the late Ellis Evans, another well-known dahlia man. He also loved traveling with his wife Donna. In addition to Donna, Hank is survived by two brothers, five children, six grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.