Soule, Robert Murray, Jr.

Founding Member and President of Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Robert Murray Soule, Jr. died on Tuesday, February 21, 2006.

He was born October 22, 1928 in Athens, GA, the son of Robert Murray Soule and Kathrine Park Soule. He was a member of the Hixson First Baptist Church.

Mr. Soule served in the U.S. Army immediately following World War II as part of the American occupation forces in Japan. After his service, he attended and graduated from the University of Georgia with a B.S. degree in Physics.

Upon graduation he worked for General Railway Signal Corporation, Rochester, NY, and then spent the balance of his career, nearly 30 years, as Assistant Superintendent of Southern Railway Yards. He retired from Norfolk Southern Railway in 1987.

The main focus of his life was his extensive involvement in and management of the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Starting in 1961, as one of the founding members of the organization, he held various offices and was ultimately elected president in 1978. His commitment to TVRM was truly a labor of love, as all of his efforts were on a strictly volunteer basis. It was a position he held until his death.

Under his guidance, the Tunnel Boulevard Bridge was constructed in 1977, which opened up new opportunities and led to TVRM acquiring additional right-of-way and property. He was responsible for acquisition of a considerable amount of the rolling stock and locomotives, many of which have been restored or are currently undergoing restoration. He handled the acquisition of land off of Cromwell Road and oversight of the construction of a depot, office building, and the wye at this location. He also oversaw construction of the depot in East Chattanooga, as well as the locomotive restoration shop and the installation of the turntable.

Under his tutelage, the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum became the largest operating railroad museum in the Southeast United States. At present, TVRM operates daily trains, weekend excursions, as well as a multitude of special events.

He is preceded in death by his parents, Robert and Kathrine Soule and brother, Andrew McNarin Soule.

He is survived by his wife of 44 years, Joyce Hulsey Soule; son, Robert Soule, III, and wife Laqueta A. Soule; daughter, Mary Penelope Soule, all of Chattanooga; one sister, Kathrine Soule Warnell of Washington D.C.

A graveside service will be held at 2 p.m. on Friday, at the Chattanooga Memorial Park with Rev. Carl Armes officiating. The pallbearers will be George Walker, Rick Taylor, Mike Usher, Gene Crumbley, Tommy Crumbley, and Russell Bonder. Interment will follow at the Chattanooga Memorial Park.

The family will receive friends for visitation Thursday from 4–7 p.m. and on Friday from 11–1 p.m. at the North Chapel of Chattanooga Funeral Home.

In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the 5288 Locomotive Restoration Fund c/o Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum, 4119 Cromwell Road, Chattanooga, TN 37421.

Arrangements are made by the Chattanooga Funeral Home Crematory & Florist, 5401 Highway 153, Hixson, TN 37343.

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