George Soule

16 February 2012
George Soule
George Soule

George Soule died suddenly after a brief illness on Dec. 24th. He was 81 years old. A Carleton graduate of 1951, George taught English at Carleton for 33 years, beginning in 1962. He was a much loved professor, teaching on a broad array of writers and engaging students in discussions about beauty, truth, art, and life. After his retirement in 1995, he continued to teach and give talks in many settings, including the Cannon Valley Collegium and local and international community groups. A true believer in the liberal arts, George appeared five times on Jeapordy in 1990 and was the 1990 champion of the Senior Tournament. George’s wit and wisdom will be sorely missed.

George is survived by his wife, Carolyn Soule, the Administrative Assistant in English, his daughter, Kate Soule, and two granddaughters, Taylor and Zoe Soule.

In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that contributions may be made to the George Soule Memorial Fund at Carleton or to the Cannon Valley Elder Collegium (c/o Barbara Jenkins, CVEC Finance Director, 514 Sumner St., Northfield).

Please continue to keep Carolyn and all of George’s family and friends in your thoughts and prayers.

In sorrow and faith,

Posted In


  • 2012-05-11 10:10:39
    J.G. Preston '80

    I just now learned of George's death, and I am so, so sorry to hear it. George was probably more responsible for my Carleton education than any other individual. I took his English 10 class in the spring of my sophomore year for the sole purpose of meeting my writing requirement, having no real interest in literature. But I was charmed by his passion for the material...he shook me out of at least some of my complacency and arrogance as a writer...I remember those 8:30 a.m. classes in Laird 206 when George would hear the spring birds chirping in the rafters outside, cock his head, stop and say, "and small fowles maken melodye"...and by the end of the term I was thinking of myself as an English major. Not the best news the English department ever had, but my life was enriched by the literature I read over the next three years and I have always been grateful to George for opening that world to me. Carolyn, I'm thinking of you.

  • 2012-05-11 10:11:26
    Arika Okrent

    I am so sorry to hear this! I was looking forward to visiting with him at reunion. He was a wonderful friend and professor.

  • 2012-05-11 10:12:22
    Leslie Abel Flemming '65

    I still remember, with fondness, the Shakespeare class I took with Professor Soule.  It was one of the best. 

  • 2012-05-11 10:13:24
    Alison (Atkins) Denton

    Condolences to George's family and friends. I went to London with him and a group of Carls on a wonderful trip of literature in place back in 1992. He was fun, full of laughter, and loved literature in so many forms. He will be well remembered.


  • 2012-05-11 10:53:53
    Rosemary Moran McDermott

    Post-War British Lit was one of my favorite classes at Carleton.  Prof Soule's enjoyment of the material, and insightful understanding of the period, was contagious.  I still think of him whenever I read Anthony Powell or Barbara Pym.

  • 2012-05-11 16:27:30
    Lawrie Cherniack '66

    Mr. Soule was a great teacher.  His Shakespeare course was revelatory.  His enthusiasm was contagious.  I will miss him terribly.  My condolences to his family.

  • 2012-05-11 17:37:02
    Debra Harris '95

    I observed one of his classes when I visited Carleton as a prospy and then took a Freshman seminar from him. He used to bring us Jolly Ranchers that he won on Jeopardy! I think of him when I read Margaret Drabble- his course introduced me to her and she is now one of my favorite authors.

  • 2012-05-11 19:47:22
    Liisa Jalonen '67

    Mr. Soule made Summer Term bearable. He helped a group of bewildered pre-freshmen feel there was still a place with caring adults amid all the very intense pressure of the session.  He continued to be a nurturing spirit throughout my Carleton career--to me her represented the very best of the Carleton spirit.

  • 2012-05-12 15:08:47
    Kara Keeling '83

    I remember Professor Soule with great fondness:  he was chairman of the English Department while I was there.  I took "Mama Shakes" (Shakespeare's Comedies and Romances) from him, so when I saw him on "Jeopardy" a few years later and the final category was Shakespeare, I was sure he'd win it! Alas, he didn't, but it was still a joy to see him on the show and doing so well.  Carolyn Soule was also a steady presence in the department office, and I remember you affectionately as well; my thoughts are very much with you in this great loss to the Carleton family. 

  • 2012-05-13 21:15:51
    Peter Bornstein '64

    I was in Prof. Soule's first class his first semester at Carleton.  I fondly remember a great teacher.  Not only was his Shakespeare class first rate, but also a seminar in comedy was outstanding.  George embodied the teaching ethic of Carleton's faculty.  He remains indelibly in my memories.  

  • 2012-05-14 21:44:39
    Aisha (Bierma) Elmquist '02

    I am very sorry to hear the news of George's passing.  I worked for Carolyn Soule in the English Department Office and became close to the Soules.  Dinners at their home were some of my best memories from Carleton; it was wonderful to sit on their porch, have interesting conversation, and visit their garden.  I enjoyed seeing them in recent years at their home in Northfield.  I always admired their obvious bond as a couple.  Carolyn and George were brilliant and loving, and George will be greatly missed.

  • 2012-05-16 00:26:01
    Eva Baroni '81

    I am very sorry to hear about George dying.  He was my advisor at Carleton and a wise and kind man.  I took English 11 from him the fall of my freshman year to complete my writing competency when I was convinced I would be a math major.  Three years later when I switched majors, George agreed to serve as my advisor because I did not know the professor assigned to me; he said it was his prerogative as the Chair.  I also had my senior seminar with George.  I never had a professor who was more skilled at getting his students to discuss his subject in class.  He made it look so easy!  I know how well he knew the material, but he wanted us to explore the meaning rather than lecture to us.  He shared his wisdom with me on being educated and living, advise that I have taken to heart all of these years.  I will always remember him and be grateful for having known him.

  • 2012-05-20 21:51:42
    Michael Strother, '67 wannabe

    I have been blessed with many good teachers, but George Soule was one of the best. He challenged without being aloof. I always felt as though I were learning with him instead of from him. And, as Liisa said above, he made the summer program a memorably good experience instead of the concentrated grind that it might otherwise have been. Most of all I remember him as compassionate. I am deeply sorry for his family's loss.

  • 2012-05-30 21:04:44
    Mary Tallman

    I was having a conversation with my sister and George's name came up.  I was shocked when checking the Carleton College website to hear of his death.  I knew his parents well, our mother's were great friends.  I sincerest sympathy to Carolyn and Kate.

  • 2012-06-14 08:34:11
    Warren Djerf '88

    When I think about my Carleton English major experience, George Soule played a key role in making it so positive and enjoyable. For me, he set the tone of accessibility and "I can do this" in my freshman writing seminar. Later I had him for English 10.  He was very smart but approachable, inviting comments and discussion with an open, friendly attitude. 

    My high school English training was not very strong in grammar, and I was touched when Professor Soule gave me my own copy of the Harbrace College Handbook to aid my education in some basics. He did this after my freshman seminar, or maybe toward the end to help pull me through, I can't recall.  I do know it was given in a spirit of helpfulness and generosity, with the comment that I might "someday pass it along to someone else who could use it..." thereby implying I would outgrow my need for it.  I guess I failed to follow that instruction, because I still have the large part to remember the warm-hearted prof who cared enough to give it to me.

    Later in my Carleton career, my work study included part-time hours assisting Carolyn in the English Department office. She was a pleasure to work with, and even made mundane tasks like mimeographing (archaic, I know) enjoyable.

    After Carleton I cheered heartily when Prof. Soule trounced the field in Jeopardy. His success was well-deserved.

    He will be deeply missed and I hope his welcoming, inquisitive spirit remains within other faculty.

  • 2013-08-07 11:13:54
    Stephanie Bendel Hansen '90

    When Geoirge died at the end of 2011, I was stunned and saddened at the news, at the loss of so vital a spirit and so hearty a laugh, so kind and wise a man. When I was a freshman, far from home, his English class first term modeled the Carleton academic life for me. I went into his classroom each day ready for discussion, ready to be challenged, ready to think and listen and share. It was the best introduction possible to what would be expected of me in that campus environment, and I relished it. It ewas a joy, and he was a joy, albeit a demanding one!

    I relished it even when he decided to require us to memorize one poem a week and recite it - quickly - to the rest of the class, under the admonishment, "One should always have a little poetry to call on, percolating in the back of one's brain." I've never forgotten those poems, even though I groaned at the time. I came to look forward to those recitations, and I know the poems to this day. They come to mind all of the time - and George was right about the value of knowing them.

    He had such life. And he gave so freely of it to the rest of us.

    "Since there's no help, come let us kiss and part,
    Nay I have done, you get no more of me;
    And I am glad, yea, glad with all my heart,
    That thus so cleanly I myself can free;
    Shake hands for ever, cancel all our vows,
    And when we meet at any time again,
    Be it not seen in either of our brows
    That we one jot of former love retain...."

    I thought of him today, and came here to give my very belated but heartfelt and ongoing respects and gratitude.

    Blessings be.


  • 2016-04-01 09:51:24
    Anne Smith Colman '73

    Having just found out about this feature of Carleton's website, I can't resist adding an appreciation, however belatedly, of Mr. Soule's inspiring teaching of Shakespeare's Tragedies and Romances, a highlight of my time in Northfield; a more enchanting route from winter to spring, after returning from a fall term studying Shakespeare in England, I can't imagine.  When my future husband and his roommate took an English survey course from Mr. Soule the following winter, it was great to have others with whom to share enthusiasm for Mr. Soule's compassion, thoughtfulness, and insight.  We still talk about the lovely aquarium he kept in his Laird Hall office, too!  Mr. Soule embodied the deeply-learned creativity I loved at Carleton; years later, after I'd written about Margaret Drabble in a dissertation, I was delighted to learn of Mr. Soule's enthusiasm for an author who has remained a favorite.   I am sure the years have brought many wonderful memories to the Soule family, too.


  • 2016-06-09 21:40:10
    Anne Hardgrove

    As a Northfield resident before enrolling at Carleton, I got to know George through his daughter, Kate, a good friend.  George introduced me to the music of Madonna.  I think of him when I hear Madonna's ballads still.  Wearing an apron as he whipped up amazing meals in his kitchen, I can still see him dancing away.

  • 2016-12-12 20:21:42
    Don Patterson

    Professor Soule was my friend and my English teacher at Oberlin College before he returned to Carleton to spend most of his teaching career there. Uniquely, he believed in me in a more direct and humane way than any other teacher throughout my entire school, college, and graduate school experience, and because of that, he had an enormous influence over my entire life. He has not been forgotten, and I hope all students can have a similar experience with a teacher, but I know that does not happen easily.