“Have a great life.” That is what you would hear before hanging up the phone or leaving a get together with Robert E. Solorio. And boy did he ever have a great life! Born in Mexico City, Mexico on March 24, 1931, Robert (also known as Roberto, Bob and Bobby) grew up in poor conditions with his parents and four siblings. He had to learn to be tough in order to survive such conditions. Unfortunately, his toughness got him into a lot of trouble which caused his mother much worry. After his father’s passing when he was around 11, his mother, who was unable to control the wild Robert, sent him to a boy’s home for a time. A big opportunity came for Robert and his family when his uncle, who had immigrated to the U.S. with his own family, assisted with acquiring legal sponsorship for Robert’s mother and her then three children. However, there was one caveat for Robert from his uncle: “Straighten up or go back to Mexico.” Robert did just that. His great life was just beginning. At the age of 25, with only a third-grade education, Robert attended Oakland Technical High School where he excelled in music, winning competitions and acclaim with his singing and guitar playing. His singing and guitar playing would continue throughout his life as he performed for his family and friends at the many parties he attended.
It was at Oakland Tech, in the English class for immigrants, that life would get so much greater. He met Ingrid Schloetzer, a German immigrant, whose sweet demeanor captured his heart. They became inseparable and wed in April of 1959. Within seven years they had four children: two boys and two girls. To support his ever-growing family Robert charmed his way into a 20-year printing career. His specialty was fine art reproduction, and he was honored as a true craftsman in his field.
In 1970 he purchased his first and only home in Livermore, California. Robert worked hard and he played hard. Primarily handball. It was at the Oakland YMCA when his life became even greater. Ken Hofmann, a homebuilder, befriended Robert on the handball court and offered him an assistant managing position at his new athletic club in Concord, The Big C. Robert’s passions for handball and socializing intertwined and soon he found himself on amazing adventures with Mr. Hofmann. Flying on private jets, or sailing in yachts in Mexico, Robert experienced things he never imagined as a young boy. He organized many events for the club and pretty much became the honorary ambassador of the Big C. Everybody loved Bob. If you walked through the club with him, you needed to prepare yourself that he would be stopped by many people who wanted to say hello. It was this charm that also brought him a part-time job at Scott’s Seafood in Walnut Creek. There he would meet up with potential clients who were interested in holding events at the restaurant. Robert understood that his great life was not a factor of luck, but of being fortunate. That fortune came from his faith in God, or “Big Daddy” as he would say. He attended services at Saint Michael Church in Livermore, and eventually became an usher and offered sacramental services to those who could not leave their homes.
Robert retired at the age of 78 and a few years later his wife Ingrid joined him. He spent his days enjoying her company and not a day went by that he didn’t say “I love you.”. He truly adored her. When his children would tell him that they loved him, he would always respond “I love you more.” Out of all his many talents, love was his strongest.
Robert crossed over to his next great life on Dec. 27, at home surrounded by those who loved him and he “loved more.” He is preceded in death by his mother Basilisa, father Jesus, and sisters Rosa and Teresa. He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Ingrid, As well as his children Roy, Peggy, Monique, Bobby; grandchildren Richard, Jayde, Jesse, Cassandra, LaRosa; and great-grandchildren Sabrina, Matthew, Mishael and Angelo. Along with his brother Jesus (Chuy) and sister Lupe. His final resting place is located at the Oakmont Memorial Park and Mortuary in Lafayette, California.