Education

Honoring the Life and Legacy of Louise Solheim

08.07.2017

Longtime friend and partner of Moody Global Ministries with the Lord.

When Louise Crozier married Karsten Solheim in 1936, she pledged to put her husband and family ahead of everything else. She followed Karsten through his early careers as a cobbler and cookware salesman, followed by engineering school and his first job in aeronautics.

Her chosen path allowed her to work with engineers, economists and manufacturing managers. Soon she was managing the business side of their garage-based company, Karsten Manufacturing. Even after the Ping golf club became famous around the world, Louise Solheim’s most treasured responsibility was raising her children well and helping Karsten be successful. His biographer would later describe Louise as “a gracious diplomat, articulate, good-natured, and also full of ideas.”

Louise Solheim died on July 8, in Phoenix, Arizona. She was 99.

“Louise’s legacy is one that most clearly reflects Proverbs 31,” said Dr. Paul Nyquist, president of Moody Global Ministries. “She was a godly, loving wife and mother who was industrious and provided for her family. She was kind, compassionate and incredibly generous toward others. She will be dearly missed, but we rejoice in the Lord that her faith is now sight and that her life will continue to serve as an example for others to follow.”

After her mother died when Louise was an infant, she lived with her aunt and uncle in Texas until sixth grade, then moved back to live with her father in Washington. After graduating from high school at age 16, she went to a business college. After a year of college, she met Karsten, then a shoemaker at church. In two weeks they were engaged, and six months later they were married, on June 20, 1936.

Every time the Solheims moved for Karsten’s work, Louise willingly found a new job. She was gaining valuable business experience as she helped support the family. When Karsten started making golf clubs in his garage, he followed the familiar advice of “Don’t quit your day job,” his position at General Electric. But in 1967 Louise finally persuaded him to break the rule. As business manager, she was keeping the company books and was swamped with orders. Karsten Manufacturing was successful enough to support the family.

She even named one of the legendary golf clubs. When Karsten couldn’t think of a name, she suggested he call it the “Answer.” He didn’t like the idea, and said it wouldn’t fit on the club’s toe. When it was time to produce the club and he still didn’t have a name, Louise said, “Just leave out the w.” He named it the Ping Anser.

From left to right: Karsten and Louise Solheim, Bonnie and Lou Solheim. 

Their son Karsten, a 1974 alum of Moody Bible Institute, along with their four granddaughters, Candy, Dawn, Melody and Joy, also attended Moody (1982, 1987, 1988 and 1996, respectively). Karsten and Louise had already been giving to Moody when Dr. George Sweeting asked if they would prayerfully consider contributing a significant gift to help fund an athletic outreach center on Moody’s Chicago campus.

The Solheims felt it was important to support athletics at Moody, and eagerly provided a large part of the funding for the Solheim Center. The building would meet the physical needs of students and would be a unique way to reach out to the community.

The Solheim Center groundbreaking ceremony. Pictured left to right: Lou, Bonnie, Louise, and Karsten Solheim, William F. Mitchell, Sr. (chair of Moody trustees), Paul Johnson (chair of Trustees Building Committee), President Joseph Stowell, and Chancellor George Sweeting.

Dedicated on January 13, 1991, the Solheim Center continues to serve as a tool for outreach and ministry. Organizations including the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Inner City Impact, and Grip Outreach for Youth have all used the facility for their ministry efforts. Since the Solheim Center opened, thousands of students have participated in sports teams, ministries and intramurals in the building. Hundreds of students have been equipped in sports ministry and gone on to serve Christ around the world.

After her husband, Karsten, passed away in 2000, Louise continued to faithfully support Moody Global Ministries.

Louise received an honorary doctorate from Arizona State University (1992). She was also honored with the LPGA’s Commissioner’s Award (1994), Swedish Golf Federation Distinguished Service Award (2003), Arizona Golf Hall of Fame (2004), Arizona State University Regents Award for Outstanding Service to Higher Education (2004), Honorary LPGA member (2005) and Honorary Ladies European Tour member (2011).

Louise is survived by three sons: John, Allan and Karsten. She had 14 grandchildren, 47 great-grandchildren and 14 great-great grandchildren.

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