Chester Solie was a builder of both the large and small

Chester Solie was a builder.

There were the small things – woodworking treasures handcrafted for his family at Christmas.

There were the big things – landmarks that leave a lasting footprint of a man whose family history in Everett goes back a century.

In 1968, Solie built Our Savior’s Lutheran Church on Mukilteo Boulevard in Everett. There, in a circular sanctuary supported by beams reaching high to a ring at the top, hundreds of friends and family members gathered Dec. 2 to say goodbye.

Chester Jennings Solie, 89, died Nov. 26. He was the last of eight children born to Norwegian immigrants Hans and Olga Solie, who came from Wisconsin in 1902 as Weyerhaeuser was building a new timber mill in Everett. In her book “Deep Roots,” Olga Solie wrote the family’s story.

Hans Solie and his brother Dan became patriarchs of a construction dynasty. They built the Everett Public Library and South Junior High School, and the Lake Stevens, Marysville, Stanwood and Granite Falls high schools. Later, they developed View Ridge and built the Claremont shopping center and post office.

Chet Solie belonged to the Everett Elks Club and Normanna Hall. After Thelma Solie had heart surgery, the couple were active in the Second Chance Club.

After graduation from Everett High School, Chet Solie attended Pacific Lutheran College, where he met Thelma, who would become his wife. They were married in 1941.

They were teachers. During World War II, he joined a Seabee division of the Navy. Back in Everett, he taught math and coached football at North Junior High School, then taught carpentry at Everett High for 15 years.

In 1954, he formed Solie Builders. He did construction for the Boeing Co., the Snohomish County PUD and General Telephone, and built homes in Eastmont. Paul Hans Solie, his son, now runs the company.

Chet Solie also leaves his wife, Thelma; daughters Mary Susan and her husband, Randy Hufford, and Judith Carol and her husband, Jurgen Engelhardt; three grandchildren, one great-grandchild, and many Solie relatives. His brother Lloyd founded Solie Funeral Home in Everett.

Daughter Judith Solie-Engelhardt, who lives in British Columbia, remembers her father as an “enormously curious” man. “He loved people. He thought he was related to everyone.”

Special times were spent at a farm he owned at Oso and with friends at Rock Island Lake north of Kamloops, B.C., a place he called “the tall uncut,” she said.

At a reception following Solie’s memorial, great-nephew Tom Hoban said he had just polished his shoes using the shoeshine kit made by his great-uncle.

Great-nephew Shawn Hoban of Everett said they loved to spend time with their great-uncle on the Oso farm. “He was the glue that kept the whole Solie family together,” Shawn Hoban said.

“For Shawn and me, Uncle Chet was an influential male. He put us to work on that farm,” Tom Hoban added.

At the service, Rev. David Parks of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church told how work was a virtue to Chet Solie, and it also was fun.

Parks remembered Solie as a religious man, “but not overly pious.” Once, when bread was used for Holy Communion, the pastor said Solie was heard to say, “If you’re going to give me a piece that big, better put some butter on it.”

Gary Tapert remembers annual volleyball games at Mission Beach, where the Solies’ had a summer home. “We always played on Labor Day. Chet was the referee,” Tapert said.

Marv Harshman, retired University of Washington basketball coach, knew Solie through Pacific Lutheran. “He’d bring carloads of guys to our games. He was one of the funniest guys,” Harshman said.

George Schindler Sr. counted Solie as a best friend since boyhood. “He was a builder, I was a fisherman. We went out fishing a lot,” said Schindler, who shook his friend’s hand the day he died. “We never said a bad word to each other. He was a real gentleman.”

“I can’t imagine a guy in this county with more friends than Chet Solie,” Everett historian Larry O’Donnell said. “We lost a giant.”

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460 or

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