Losing a Friend & Teacher

Last year, one of my first blogs was about my likes and dislikes. Among the things I said I hated was death. Of course, I don’t anyone who’s a big fan of dying, but still it’s one of those things that I hate to see, hate to talk about and hate to deal with ( and I’m in the news business).

This morning, while I was going through my e-mail before I went on the air, I got a message from a friend that brought death to life. A woman who had been our teacher at Ohio University when I worked at the campus radio station WOUB had died. It was such a shock because of how young she was, 50 ( see the picture below from 3 years ago ) and how suddenly it had happened ( the paper there said it was after a short illness ).

Jan Sole was more than a teacher to me. She was a friend and someone who seemed to have it all and yet was very happy with what she had. She hosted classical music programs on our FM station with a voice that was made for radio – so smooth and so soft and yet so authoritative. She had a loving husband and when I returned to campus back in 1995, I met her beautiful baby daughter, Olivia. Jan was also so kind and so talented, she could have become a star anywhere but preferred to teach, educate and get to know her listeners.

I got her obituary from a friend this morning – and was stunned. It took all my strength not to break down in the newsroom before the show. It was even more sad to learn while reading that her daughter had died three years earlier ( in an accident ). It was a double blow and I cannot begin to imagine what her husband Jon is going through right now.

I know she is in a better place because my faith tells me so, but that does not make it any easier to deal with the death of a friend – especially one who had an impact on you during your formative years. The funeral is today in Athens, Ohio and I cannot make it, but I plan to send a card of condolence to her family.

I know death is the natural order of life, but that offers little solace when one so young, so talented and so full of life is taken way too soon. I speak of both mother .. and daughter. I guess the one thing we – as the living – can do, is life our lives the way Jan lived hers. That would be the best tribute and a result of what she tried to teach us.
( photo courtesy: WOUB/WFIU )

One Response

  1. Hi Andrew,
    I am now feeling what you yourself felt a few years ago as I had only just learned today of Jan’s death and the earlier death of her daughter. Jan was a good friend to me in my time at OU. I ran ACRN for several summers and was Music Director there, did shifts for Rusty on WOUB AM & FM and many other things in the old R-TV building. Jan and I would often spend time talking during prerecorded concerts, having a cup of tea together, swapping stories, I’d turn her on to some new music, etc. I last saw her in ’97 when I went back to OU to speak during Telecom Week. She remembered me in an instant, no problem, while Rusty couldn’t remember me at all (ha!). She had an impact on my life, as she did on yours and I was happy to find your blog here. I lived in Pittsburgh for almost 20 years on and off, worked all over the dial in the 80’s and 90’s on 100.7, 91.3, 104.7 and 105.9. If I had known there was an OU alum on the air, I would’ve bought you a beer! Thanks for remembering Jan so publicly, I know I personally appreciate it.

    Paul Cramer

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