Joel VanGelder Soule born on September 1, 1937, passed away November 30, 2022. Son, brother, husband, father, grandfather. Player of trombone, teller of puns, knower of history, lover of maps. Respected litigator. Lifelong Tigers fan. Hockey nut. Generous to a fault. Joel was born in Detroit, Michigan to Geraldine and Roy Soule. His early years were blessed and then bereft of his beloved younger brother, David, and interspersed with adventures around the Motor City. The family settled in Northville when Joel was in junior high, and there he ran a paper route, joined the band, and made lifelong friends. The first in his family to graduate high school and attend college, he earned a bachelor’s degree in music education from Wayne State University, where he met the love of his life, a talented green-eyed clarinetist named Betty. She directed bands and choirs after graduation while Joel taught junior high math and science, bringing his students outside on the lawn to emulate planetary distances. While teaching he set his eyes upon another instrument–the law. Never one to overthink a matter, he sat for the entrance exam after paging through the test booklet and found himself at University of Michigan Law School soon after. They wed, and he passed the bar and began practicing with Allaben, Massie, VanderWeyden, and Timmer in Grand Rapids. By 1972 he had established himself in private practice, sometimes working with partners and associates, and always seeking that courtroom thrill. Even so, he thoughtfully advised clients and offered frequent counsel that, “I’d rather you had a good life than a good lawsuit.” At home he held court at the kitchen table, challenged his four children to grapple with the concept of justice, and encouraged them to pursue it on behalf of others. Joel is survived by his wife, Elizabeth; children, Nancy Soule, Matthew Soule, Mary Geidner (James), and Carole McCammon (Martin); five grandchildren, Maggie, Andrew, Josephine, Ethan, and Lucy; sister-in-law, Theresa Pankas (Emory), nieces, nephews, cousins, and the holdouts of the Northville class of 1955. He was much loved and is greatly missed. Visitation will be held from 2-6 PM on Monday, December 5, 2022, at O’Brien-Eggebeen-Gerst Chapel, 3980 Cascade Road SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546. Funeral Services will take place at 11 AM, on Tuesday, December 6, 2022, at the funeral home, with visitation one hour prior. Msgr. Ernie Schnieder officiating. Interment at Rural Hill Cemetery, Northville, Michigan.
My deepest condolences to Joel’s family and friends. Carole I’m so very sorry to hear about your dad. It’s evident you all lost someone extraordinary.
Dear Soule family,
Joel was an incredible guy. May he Rest In Peace and May your faith comfort you during this difficult time.
Anne Stawiski, Lenin Duran, and Mary Lou Stawiski and our families
My condolences to the Soule family. I met Joel when he was a defense attorney on many cases. We thought we might be 6th cousins as Soule and Sowle were so close. Joel always had a new history book to tell me about as we negotiated settlements. Always a gentleman, he will be missed.
Sending our heartfelt condolences to the entire Soule family. Mary, we are so sorry for your loss, and wish you comfort as you remember your dad.
Much love from MN,
Kate, Tom, and family
Sending my deepest condolences to the Soule family. I was recently able to connect with Joel and knew him to be a most interesting and caring man. I always got a chuckle and a bit of history knowledge from our talks. My thoughts are with the entire family during this difficult time.
Much love from Japan,
Marcus Grandon and our families
Expressing my sincere sympathy at the passing of your dear father, etc., Joel. He has returned to from where he came — and this is a beautiful contemplation!
I am so sorry for your loss. I have fond memories of Mr. Soule, when we would get together at your house as kids. My prayers and sympathy are with all of you. God bless you.
I had the esteemed opportunity to witness and work with Joel as a lawyer for many years. He was the personification of a legal scholar and a consummate gentleman. His passing is a loss for our profession. My deepest condolences.
So sad to learn of his passing! Here is our Christmas cheer:
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