Charles Robert Solenberger '53 | Handley 100th Anniversary Notable
Charles Robert Solenberger ’53

Robert Solenberger was an excellent student at Handley. He was Vice-President of the General Organization as well as Vice-President and “Best All Around” in the Class of 1953. A participant in intermural boxing and wrestling, he had a Hall of Fame career as co-captain of the football team and a record holder as a middle distance runner in track.

Robert earned both his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in chemical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Following his graduation from MIT, he returned to Winchester, married Bessie Smalts (Class of 1953), and joined his father as an orchardist.

By the early 1960’s, he was a member of the Judges Athletic Association board and a member of the Winchester Star Leadership Award committee.

Robert became known for his progressive farming procedures and practices. In 1967, he became the first orchardist in Virginia to use a mechanical harvesting machine for processing apples and was named the Outstanding Young Farmer by the Jaycees the following year.

He served as President of the Virginia Horticulture Society, the Virginia State Apple Commission and the Frederick County Fruit Growers Association. He served on the Board of Directors of the Winchester Medical Center and the Shenandoah Valley National Bank.

He became a charter member of the Lord Fairfax Community College Board in 1969. He helped raise funds for the creation of the Northern Virginia 4-H Center in Warren County.

In 1974, he was selected to be the Chairman of the Frederick-Winchester Service Authority, a position he held for 25 years.

The Winchester Star reported in 1988 that Robert managed 1,500 acres of fruit bearing orchards from West Virginia to Shenandoah County with about 200 acres of peaches. By 1997, his company, Fruit Hill Orchards, was listed as 7th largest in the nation for apple production.

Fruit Hill Orchards continue to grow quality produce for American families.

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