James Carlyle (Carl) Soyars departed this life peacefully at the age of 100 on May 27, 2023 in Richmond, VA, having been in remarkably good health up until the final week of his life.
Carl was born on August 31, 1922 in Schoolfield VA (Pittsylvania County), the son of the Reverend Henry Norman Soyars and Kate Tyler Parrish Soyars. As an infant he contracted meningitis and his parents were told by numerous doctors that he likely would not survive. Despite this dire prediction, Carl not only survived, but went on to lead a long, productive and rich life, including proud service to his country in World War II.
Shortly after enrollment at the University of Richmond, he answered the call to serve in the U.S. Army. Following basic training, he shipped out to Europe with General George S. Patton's Third Army, landing in the third wave of the Normandy invasion. He served for three years under General Patton in Company B of the 93rd Mortar Battalion, directing artillery mortar fire (and as a consequence lost much of the hearing in his right ear).
His battalion was part of the U.S. forces that continued eastward through Europe, among other things aiding in the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps. The horrors and suffering Carl witnessed at these camps was forever seared in his memory as a testament of mankind’s inhumanity to one another. Yet, like many of his fellow soldiers, Carl never spoke much about his military service, though he was proud of his country and his service. He lived life fully afterwards with an abiding optimism about the future.
After his return from Europe, while on leave awaiting deployment to the Pacific Theater, he rekindled his romance with a lovely young Longwood College student whose picture he had carried throughout the war. And in February of 1946, Carl and his beloved Ruth Downs Brooks were married.
Carl and Ruth built a happy life in the West End of Richmond. Carl started out as an auditor at the Virginia State Corporation Commission, where Ruth also was employed, before moving on to the real estate business where he spent the rest of his career.
Sadly, Ruth passed away over twenty-two years ago, shortly after her retirement. Carl remained in their home, living there independently up until the time of his death. He inherited this legacy of longevity from his mother Kate, who lived until the grand old age of 106.
Carl enjoyed golfing with his buddies, watching sports and visiting with family and friends. He prized his mobility so much so that when his car was totaled several years ago in a rear end collision on Broad Street through no fault of his own, he immediately began the search for a new low-mileage car, which he drove with great pleasure right up until the end.
In addition to his parents and Ruth, Carl was predeceased by his sisters Katherine Grizzard and her husband M.D. and Norma Watkins and her husband Billy. He is survived by his nieces, Kathy Spradlin (Lynn), Debbie Pociluyko (David), Sally Bobbitt (Tom), his nephew, Will Watkins (Jean), and numerous grandnieces, grandnephews, relatives and friends, including his dear devoted friends Robin and Jim Harris and the dear friends of his neighborhood.
A graveside service celebrating Carl’s life with full military honors will be held at Westview Cemetery in Farmville Virginia on Saturday, June 3, 2023 at 11.00 AM.