Editors’ note: Labor leader José A. Soler passed away on April 20, 2020. He was known to us as a comrade and friend.
We send our deep condolences to his family and friends.
We reprint the obituary notice of the Greater Southeastern Massachusetts Labor Council.
José A. Soler, (1945 – 2020,) was originally from New York City but lived his last years in New Bedford. He was the son of José G. Soler Lopez and Lucila Soler del Valle. And he was an impassioned, dedicated, caring, inspiring, effective activist, organizer, educator and a visual poet of a photographer. He died peacefully at St. Luke’s Hospital in the loving presence of a son, Xavier, and within clear earshot of the phone voice of his loving daughter, Maria, after a sudden illness and very brief hospitalization. His interests included the role of people of color in the U.S. labor movement, the role of unions in the U.S., Puerto Rico and elsewhere.
José lectured with infectious enthusiasm and gave rousing, informative rally speeches about key social justice and human rights struggles out of his experiential and scholarly knowledge about: the media and labor, the workers’ education movement, the history and culture of Puerto Rico and Marxism-Leninism. Aside from his abiding passion for photography, José brought his seemingly endless energy, his personal warmth, upbeat disposition, deeply, broadly informed intelligence and wise insights to the endeavors of his life’s work.
Specifically, he brought all of that to being a teacher in Puerto Rico, union and community organizer, award-winning labor journalist and educator in New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts. Soler was also a leader, active member of or associate of the International Organization of Journalists, Clergy and Concerned Laity, various unions in Puerto Rico and the U.S., The Black Berets, The Puerto Rican Independence Movement, The Puerto Rican Socialist Party and was co-chair of the U.S. Peace Council’s March against Nuclear Weapons, as well as internationally and organizationally active in the Anti-Apartheid Movement.
In New Bedford he championed the human rights and well being of exploited and harassed Central American undocumented Workers. Most recently he was a co-leader of the New Bedford Coalition To Save Schools, and he was on the National Steering Committee of Save Our Schools and on The Board of Citizens For Public Education.
José was Director of the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth Dubin Labor Education Center for 20 years until his retirement in 2015. He earned his bachelor degree in University Studies at the University of New Mexico and his master of arts degree in Labor Studies from Rutgers University.
He was predeceased by his first wife Esther Bloom, his second wife was Grace M. Dubreuil. Jose Soler was a loving father, a loving devoted grandfather and is survived by his sons, Pedro Soler of New York City, Xavier Cardona, Caesar, his daughters Maria Soler Dubreuil of Florida, and Venus. He adored his grandchildren Kiana, Janiya, Sakari, Javion, Amarie, Kadenz, Carlisle, Onyx, Jovani and Jaliyah. An extraordinarily committed friend, Mr. Soler was a beloved member of the New Bedford community and a well known, highly respected activist around the world. His legacy is ongoing among all of the many friends, colleagues, students and workers whose lives he helped to improve and in whose being his fire for justice still glows or flares and lights their righteous individual ways onward and upward.