Donald Soule, caring husband, loving father, and incredible member of our family, passed away Tuesday, March 7th, 2023 at age 70. He leaves behind his wife of 47 years, Susan, and his sons Christopher and Benjamin. He also leaves behind his sister Jennie, who lives in Manchester with her husband Ray and his brother Fred, who lives in Carroll with his wife Kathi, and many nephews, nieces, cousins, and extended family members who touched his life.
Donald was born on November 18th, 1952 to Homer F. Soule and his wife Barbara (née Burlingame). Donald was always into gadgets and the outdoors as a young boy. (He would often brag to his much less handy sons how he used to build car engines and radios just for fun.) Don’s childhood was filled with science fiction novels, games and sports, and helping his siblings and mother. He grew into an inquisitive and wholehearted man, who won over others with his unique sense of humor. Donald quickly left an impression on people wherever he went, no matter how much or how little time he spent with them.
Among the most treasured years of Donald’s youth were spent on Lake Winnipesaukee at Camp Idlewild. As a child, he delighted in the outdoor adventures he had there, and soon found himself especially comfortable on the water: sailing, swimming, and lifeguarding. He loved being at Idlewild so much, he returned to work there as a teenager, fostering a lifelong love of educating others about the water and the great outdoors.
Donald began his academic career at Hallsville Elementary. After graduating from Manchester Memorial High School in 1970, he went on to earn his Bachelor’s of Science in Mathematics at Plymouth State College. It was here that he met his future wife Susan Wheeler; they were married June 7th, 1975. Donald and Susan spent their pre-child years cultivating memories traveling to Europe, enjoying toga parties on Caribbean Windjammer cruises, and taking long scenic drives around beautiful New England. There’s a reason Donald tended to know the location of every ice cream stand on any back road you’ve never heard of in the granite state.
As a father, Donald excelled at helping his sons build character by leading by example. He fostered in his boys the values of hard work, honesty, kindness and responsibility. He delighted in taking his family on outings to all NH attractions, especially Santa’s Village. He taught his sons how to swim, how to jam out to epic movie soundtracks in the car, and how to wrestle on the floor. He was a devoted father who took a genuine interest in each of his son’s passions. He joined Christopher in his skiing and ski racing adventures and Boy Scout outings; he supported Benjamin in his educational pursuits and Special Olympics athletic events. (And graciously embraced running the Dad taxi service whenever needed.)
It’s no surprise that Donald was also a devoted grandfather to his only grandson, Theodore, son of Christopher and Kristin Brown. Donald never missed an opportunity to attend an event, to read him stories, watch him when he was sick, take him on journeys, listen to music, play hide and seek with a blanket, and generally shower him with the same love he bestowed on Theodore’s father and uncle.
When he wasn’t giving so much of himself to those around him, Donald enjoyed putting his feet up with a movie, solving a SuDoKu puzzle, entertaining the birds at their birdfeeder, or listening to music while he worked in his study. He enjoyed the works of Tom Clancy and Isaac Asimov and found wisdom from television shows like Star Trek, the West Wing, X-Files, and Married with Children. He had a sweet tooth that extended to chocolate (dark only!), and savored breakfast foods (omelets!) and seafood (lobsters! And pass the butter!). Donald never heard of a firetower on a mountain he didn’t want to climb.
One can hope that they encounter a man like Donald Soule at some point in their life, but many of us were blessed to know Donald all our lives and felt his positive impact. At heart, Donald was an explorer. And now, to use a phrase from Babylon 5 (his favorite sci-fi television show), Donald has left us to explore “what lies beyond the rim.”