"Giving to cancer research will not only affect our own loved ones, but it will also touch the lives of generations to come. It is a gift to humanity." So said Richard J. Solove, who was a driving force behind the opening of the Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Research Institute in 1990.
Living by his words, Mr. Solove committed $20 million for cancer genetics research at Ohio State in 1999.
"Mr. Solove's extraordinary support energized our cancer research engine here at Ohio State, enabling us to impact cancer patients and their families from all over the world," says Michael A. Caligiuri, MD, director of the Ohio State's Comprehensive Cancer Center and CEO of The James.
In the 1950s, Mr. Solove noticed a lump in his father's neck and took him to their family physician, who referred them to Arthur G. James, MD, for further testing. The elder Solove was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Although the cancer claimed his life three years later at the age of 62, the experience fostered a close friendship between Richard Solove and Dr. James.
Dr. James, who at that time was a physician and faculty member in Ohio State's College of Medicine, had dreamed of establishing a freestanding cancer hospital in central Ohio. Mr. Solove's personal experience with the disease – coupled with his love for Ohio State, where he had earned pharmacy degree in 1948 – inspired him to share that dream.
In 1962, Mr. Solove sold his pharmacies and became a successful real estate developer. He remained a staunch supporter of the cancer program at Ohio State and was quick to answer the call when, in 1977, Dr. James asked him and other Columbus businessmen for help in pursuing a cancer hospital at OSU. Mr. Solove worked with Gov. Jim Rhodes and the Ohio Legislature to secure funding for the hospital.
He believed it was important to share his success by extending it through the new cancer hospital and research institute. Believing that cancer will eventually be eradicated, Mr. Solove designated his commitments to be used for other areas of medical research when that day comes.
He was a founding member of The James Foundation Board and served as its president for five years. In 1999, following his major financial commitment, the OSU Board of Trustees changed the hospital's name to the Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute. Cancer again touched his life the following year, when his younger sister, Bernice, succumbed to the disease.
In 2005, gifts from the late Mrs. James, the James family, and friends and former patients of Dr. James established the Dr. Arthur G. and Mildred C. James Professorship in Surgical Oncology. Fittingly, this professorship was bestowed upon William B. Farrar, MD, director of the Division of Surgical Oncology at Ohio State, who trained with Dr. James and later worked as his partner for several years. In early 2006, through a generous gift from Mr. Solove in memory of Dr. and Mrs. James, this professorship attained endowed chair leve, leading to The Arthur G. and Mildred C. James – Richard J. Solove Chair in Surgical Oncology. Farrar now holds that chair.
"I know firsthand what it means to be affected by a cancer death, and everyone has or will be affected by cancer sometime," Mr. Solove said. "I do deeply love this hospital, and the progress that's been made is incredible. Many significant goals have been fulfilled over the years, and I believe we are at the cusp of even bigger accomplishments and breakthroughs. I hope this philanthropy can be contagious since we can achieve so much more with the help of our friends and supporters around the country."
A longtime vintage car enthusiast, Mr. Solove built a cherished collection of Rolls-Royce automobiles over more than 35 years. In 2007, he sold 13 vehicles at auction, with proceeds going to the cancer program at Ohio State. "Dick is a person who, when he believes in something, never falters in his support," says David Schuller, MD, vice president for Medical Center Expansion and Outreach, CEO emeritus of The James, and director emeritus of the Comprehensive Cancer Center. "His monetary contributions have helped immensely, but it's his unwavering faith in our mission as caregivers, scientists and educators that has kept us energized."