As the College’s oldest living alumnus, Max Solomon ’30, G’99 has this simple bit of wisdom for why he has led a fulfilling life: “I did what I wanted to do.”
What this 103-year-old wanted to do was be a doctor. A general practitioner in Lancaster for more than 60 years, he was considered both a quintessential country doctor and Lancaster’s best diagnostician.
Solomon reveled in all aspects of his practice, but delivering babies — more than 2,000 — was his favorite part. “I was so happy to give someone a baby,” he explains, “because they were so happy to have one.”
Solomon had always wanted to be a doctor. Even the Great Depression, which started the fall of his senior year at F&M, did not stop him. He felt the effects, though, as his family lost its home in Mount Vernon, N.Y., where his father ran a trucking company.
He attended the University of Pennsylvania Medical School on scholarship. “I definitely needed that scholarship,” he says. “We had no money.” The day he graduated from medical school in 1934 was the same day he married Shirley, a “townie” from Lancaster whom he met while at F&M. “I had my diploma in one hand and marriage license in the other.”
He and Shirley, who died in 1971, moved to Lancaster, where they raised their two children. Solomon loves everything about the area. “I love the environment,” he says, “and the people are all so nice.”
Something else Solomon wanted to do was learn, and continue to learn. On most Wednesdays when he was a practicing doctor, he and his wife went to Philadelphia. He attended classes at Penn while his wife shopped.
Even after his retirement in November 1995, he continued to take classes. The classes kept his mind sharp, and a strict walking regimen kept his body strong. Solomon can still be spotted strolling in his neighborhood a few minutes’ drive from campus.
Solomon says his F&M education changed his life. The connection to his alma mater has stayed strong for more than 80 years, during which time his daughter, Carole D’Ettorre, worked at the College for 22 years and his grandson, Stephen D’Ettorre, graduated, in 1999.
He attributes his long life to “good genes,” citing numerous members of his family who lived into their 90s. But certainly his dedication to his patients played a role in keeping this family doctor young at heart. Many of his patients are still in touch and remember him fondly, sending cards and gifts for his birthday and at the holidays.
The headline to the story in the local newspaper on his 100th birthday said it all: “Beloved.” And all just for doing what he wanted to do.