Bob Soltero, “He left his mark on the community”

Soltero was humbled having a golf tournament named after him

For most of Bob Soltero’s life, golf was his sport. He loved being on the golf course, and later in life GCI honored him by naming a golf tournament after him.

By Joe Arce and Corey Crable

Kansas City’s Hispanic community is once again mourning the loss of one of its greats. Robert “Bob”Soltero aka Uncle Bob, a longtime board member at the Guadalupe Centers (GCI) and the founder of the Tony Aguirre Scholarship Golf Tournament, which now bears Soltero’s name, died this week following a lengthy illness.

“Everybody knew Bob, and everybody loved him,” said Valerie Coyazo, a friend of Soltero’s. Coyazo later took over organizing the Bob Soltero Scholarship Golf tournament, which raises scholarship funds for area students, several years ago after Soltero became ill. An avid golfer for most of his life, friends and family could find Soltero with a golf club in his hands at the Swope Memorial Golf Course. In later years, he’d instead wield a spatula as he and his late wife Carmen prepared a huge lunch of tamales and enchiladas for those participating in annual golf tournaments.

“They were always doing things to give back to the community,” Coyazo said of Soltero and Carmen. “They were very patient and kind.”

Cris Medina, former president and CEO of the Guadalupe Centers, knew Soltero for years, and credited the very idea of the golf tournament to him. Medina said he first met Soltero when Soltero moved back to the Westside and decided he wanted to get involved with the community.

“As I got to know him, he and his wife would tell me about the center when they were growing up,” Medina recalled. “The center made a big impact on his life. … He’s the one who came up with the idea of the golf tournament and wanted to name it to honor Tony Aguirre (the centers’ former athletic director) and make it a fundraiser for scholarships.”

Medina also remembered Soltero as a father figure to some and an uncle to others, a man who affectionately called his surrogate sons “mijo.”

Coyazo, meanwhile, recalled the nickname Soltero had for her all of these years.

“He called me, ‘Baby,’” Coyazo laughed. “We’ve known each other for more than 20 years. That was just Bob’s way, and I love him for it. I’ll always think of him as family.”

Soltero, like the late Lali Garcia, who preceded him in deaths several months ago, was a larger-than-life presence in the Westside, Medina said, spending much of his time on the golf course but also in the board room.

“This tournament wouldn’t be here without Bob Soltero,” Medina said. “It’s been an awful year. We’ve lost a lot of pillars of our community.”

Soltero, who served for years on the Guadalupe Centers’ board of directors, had the idea to make the Tony Aguirre Scholarship Golf Tournament a fundraiser for students from all walks of life, Coyazo noted.

“We give out at least seven scholarships a year from it, and it allows students to go to a private high school, a college or pursue a skilled trade,” she explained, also noting that the event was renamed for Soltero a few years ago. “It’s been super important, and these students have gone on to become doctors and lawyers. It really made a difference in their lives.”

Guadalupe Centers posted on their Facebook page, “The Guadalupe Centers and the Westside community are saddened to share the loss of longtime GCI board member and community leader Bob Soltero. His commitment to GCI spans over 30 years from serving as a board member of director, teaching golf to children ages 8 to 17, volunteering at the fiestas, and sharing his hospitality skills at the culinary arts school from his management experience in the hotel restaurant business.”

Both Coyazo and Medina remembered Soltero as a humble leader who also was a bit of a jokester, “Bob also had his ornery side. He liked to kid around all the time,” Coyazo said. “But he was a pillar in the community, and he has left a legacy. It tells us what kind of a man he was. … He left his mark on the community. I’m proud to say Bob was my friend, and I’m going to miss him.”

Robert Soltero, 94, passed away on November 28, 2021 at his home in Kansas City, MO. Visitation will be held 6-8 p.m. with Rosary at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 2nd at McGilley Midtown Chapel, 20 W. Linwood KCMO. Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, Dec 3 at Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine, 901 Avenida Cesar Chavez, with entombment following in Mt. Olivet Cemetery. Condolences may be offered at