Charles Douglas Solyan
September 29, 1942 – February 21, 2022
Charles Douglas Solyan, age 79, died peacefully with family by his side on February 21, 2022, of Covid complications. Doug was born on September 29, 1942 in Sharon, PA to Charles and Frances Solyan. The family moved to Hopewell, VA where he graduated from Hopewell High School. He moved to Richmond in 1971. He attended Richard Bland College then transferred to VCU where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics in 1973.
Doug was preceded in death by his parents and his nephew, Robert Allen McNeece. He is survived by his wife of 31 years, Deborah Conley Solyan. He is also survived by his sister Pamela Solyan McNeece (Michael) of Jacksonville, FL; brother, William F. Solyan (Sandi) of Rancho Cucamonga, CA; cousin, Ron Coleman of Richmond, VA and numerous cousins throughout the United States.
Doug lived a colorful and fulfilling life. He traveled to many different countries and throughout the United States, made life long friends, and became an accomplished neon artist and bender, becoming well known in the Richmond and surrounding areas. Doug had a lifelong love for Weimaraners, owning several throughout the years. He had an appreciation for eclectic things in life such as tarantulas, fish, motorcycles, hotrods, and RV road trips. He enjoyed playing chess, cards, video games, doing Sudoku’s, visiting art museums and was an iconic collector of neon clocks, unusual items and memorabilia.
Doug founded Olde Towne Mirror and resilvered thousands of antique mirrors. Upon its closing he owned and operated Uptown Neon for 35 years. Many Richmond area restaurants, bars, and businesses have Doug’s neon in their establishments. He also made neon artwork for private individuals, movie sets, and collaborated with numerous artists. He was kind and generous, gladly sharing his love of neon with all interested customers who came into his shop. He mentored several people who were enthusiastic about learning the neon trade.
Doug was a member of St. John’s Episcopal Church for 32 years and had served on the vestry. A service for the Celebration of his life will be held at 2:00pm, Friday, March 11, 2022 at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 2319 E. Broad St., Richmond, VA. Internment will follow the service at St. John’s Church. In lieu of flowers, please send a donation to the American Lung Association in Doug’s memory.
Masks are required in all church buildings at this time.
Celebration of Life
St. John’s Episcopal Church
2319 E. Broad St.
Friday, March 11, 2022
*Interment will follow at the church
It was truly gift to see a familiar face just about every month for over a decade. Knowing Doug by what he ate the second he walked in the door, knowing what table he would sit at, and knowing what he did for a living made cooking for him feel like we had an actual bond beyond patron and chef. Knowing now that he had similar interests as myself, I feel even more grateful that I was able to be a part of his life in some way. Although not often having many words shared outside of our greetings while at work, I felt connected through mutual appreciation for a craft and comfort.
The Lounge sign will always be on for him.
My utmost love,
Chef of Helen’s
Doug was such a force on Cary Street for years and years. I first met Doug after I moved to the Slip and went to his shop for help in creating “the coolest piece of Neon Art” in the city. Soon I had more Neon and worked for Doug for a couple of years. We always stayed friends and I will miss hearing his voice and spending time in the shop with him. Helping him with Neon, always learning more about the Art he had let me in on over the years. I recall taking turns with he and Debbie caring for the litter of puppies and watching how Doug cared them. I am a better person for knowing Doug, We had many scares over the years of our friendship with Dogs health and I recall having to be away from him during COVID, and at the end of each phone call we knew it might be the last time we spoke and we would make sure we let each other know how much our friendship meant to each other. Rest in peace my friend, In Neon Heaven!!
Mr. Solyan restored two vintage neon automobile dealership signs for me some years ago and did a brilliant job. I enjoyed doing business with him. My condolences to the family.
I believe when you lose someone you love, you gain an angel you know. May you take comfort in knowing there is one more angel above us. You and Doug have a trail of beautiful memories. May you find peace in memories and comfort in the love of friends and family.
My Sincere Sympathy,
Doug and go back to the Hopewell/Petersburg /Moore’ Lake days. His neon thunderbolt in my living room window is known by every stranger that rides or neighbor that lives nearby. God Speed my friend.