Dorothy Solomon, 90; was super-saleswoman for Light

Dorothy Solomon

BY ROBERT A. COHN, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus

Dorothy Solomon, for many years an admired “super-saleswoman” of the St. Louis Jewish Light, died “peacefully,” according to family members, on Friday, March 30, at Menorah Medical Center in Kansas City.  She was 90 and had lived in Kansas City, Mo., where her daughter resides, since retiring as a sales account executive at the Jewish Light at the age of 81.

Born in St. Louis on August 6, 1921, Mrs. Solomon was the daughter of the late Sam and the late Theresa Altman. She attended Blewett High School and worked at several jobs, including the old Council House, a social service agency that later merged with the Jewish Community Center.  She then left the work force in order to raise her family.

Mrs. Solomon volunteered for the Welcome Wagon, and among those she helped welcome to St. Louis was the family of Robert Ingersoll, who had become publisher of the Suburban Journals. Rabbi Jeffrey Stiffman, Emeritus of Congregation Shaare Emeth, in his eulogy at Mrs. Solomon’s funeral Monday said, “After he had heard Dorothy pitch the neighborhood businesses to (Ingersoll’s) wife, he offered Dorothy a job selling advertising for the Journals.  She protested that she didn’t have the knowledge to do so. Ingersoll told her that Dorothy had something he could not teach, the unique ability to sell.  ‘I’ll teach you the rest,’ and so at the age of 61 she began the career that her daughter said ‘would define her life.’”

Mrs. Solomon enjoyed selling advertising for the Journals in the Creve Coeur area, but when asked to switch to a less familiar territory, she was reluctant to do so.  It was then that Buddy Goldstein, advertising manager at the time for the Jewish Light, offered her a job on the sales team at the Jewish community newspaper.  “Thus began her wonderful association with the Jewish Light,” said Stiffman. “She had not only a job, but another family.”

Mrs. Solomon sold advertising to nearly all Chinese and other Asian restaurants in St. Louis, and colleagues called her the “Chinese Queen.”

A few years after Mrs. Solomon’s husband Ely Solomon died, she met her longtime companion, Henry Changar, through a personal ad for seniors in the Jewish Light.  They were together for 13 years until his passing, and had enjoyed dancing several times a week and attending concerts, theatrical performances and traveling.  “Watching Dorothy and Henry dance circles around much younger people made a lot of people envious of the companionship,” Rabbi Stiffman said.

After Mrs. Solomon moved to Kansas City, where she was welcomed by her daughter Roberta Solomon and her companion Eric Gentry, she became an early and active member of Congregtion Kol Ami, whose spiritual leader, Rabbi Doug Alpert, attended and took part in her funeral service on Monday.  

“Many people when they retire choose to rest on her laurels, but not Dorothy.  She became a mainstay of our new congregation and our members do not know how we will get along without her active and enthusiastic participation for which we are all so grateful,” Rabbi Alpert said.    

Mrs. Solomon was also remembered for her warm sense of humor as well as her mentoring of her colleagues at the Light.  She and her brother, Marty Altman, would send a piece of brisket back and forth to each other to be kept in their freezers ever since their mother had given Marty the brisket back in 1975.

 “I think we came in second in a Post-Dispatch contest for the oldest thing in one’s fridge or freezer; we were beaten out by some ancient cherries.  But the meat is still in my freezer,” Marty Altman told the Jewish Light.

Mrs. Solomon was a gardener. Rabbi Stiffman  noted she gardened at Kol Ami and also on her patio—even reading seed catalogs in the hospital during the last days of her life.  

Rabbi Stiffman, with the participation of Rabbi Alpert, officiated at the graveside funeral services Monday at United Hebrew Cemetery on Canton Avenue.

In addition to her daughter and brother, survivors include a son, Gene Solomon of Portland, Ore.

Memorial contributions are suggested by the family to Congregation Kol Ami, 7501 Belinder Road, Prairie Village, Kan.