Sommerville, Michael Douglas


Michael Douglas Sommerville was born April 19, 1940, in Fargo, N.D., to Douglas and Almehda Sommerville. He was the second of eight children, six of whom survive him.

He grew up in Bemidji, Minn., going to St. Phillips elementary school and graduating from Bemidji High School in 1958. He went to St. John’s University and then transferred to the University of Minnesota. After his sophomore year he enlisted in the U.S. Army and spent three years in Germany. When he returned from Germany he enrolled at the University of Minnesota, graduating with honors and Phi Beta Kappa. He then took the LSAT and missed only one question. The University Law School invited him to attend, and he received a full-ride scholarship.

The first year out of law school he was the law clerk for District Court Judge Gerald Heaney and then went to work for a law firm in St. Paul. After working at the law firm for a few years he determined that the practice of law was not what he wanted. He became a novice and then a De La Salle Christian Brother and started teaching at (then) Saint Mary’s College. After several years he determined that, while his true calling was to teach, serving as a Christian Brother was not right for him. The Brothers (Brother George) allowed him to remain at the school as a lay person. During this time he helped to create the criminal justice major and taught in the Political Science and Business departments, thus touching the lives of many of the students. His good friends in his early years at SMC included Fr. Andrew Fabian, John Johnson, Robert Connor, and Arthur Flodstrom.

In 1980 he married Patricia Miller, who taught corporate finance and accounting at the school. They were not blessed with any biological children, but did “adopt” a special young man, Paul T. Maloney. He lived with them for 18 years, even helping them to build their dream home in the country. Paul and his wife Julie are the children God gave Mike and Pat.

One of the highlights of Mike’s and Pat’s careers at Saint Mary’s University was the opportunity to teach a semester abroad in Florence, Italy, in the international program headed by Robert Connor.

Most of Mike’s students called him “Doc.” He was an excellent teacher who expected his students to perform to the highest of their abilities, and they loved him for it. He was friend and mentor to many of his students up until his death.

Mike was a champion boxer in the Army and used those skills in his career. His coaching matured young men and helped them to enter the adult world with the right mental attitude and goal of success.

Mike and Pat retired in spring 2008 and moved to Ocala, Fla. They came home every year, and Mike especially enjoyed participating in the ‘M’ Club golf outing with former students and friends. While in Florida, Mike continued his interests in gardening and golf and also participated in Glee Club Singers and Contract and Casual Bridge.

He had a minor stroke in the spring and was improving, but then he had a major stroke and God called him. He died on July 28. He is survived by his wife, Pat; his “kids,” Paul and Julie Maloney; many former students who have kept in touch these many years; four sisters; two brothers; and numerous nieces and nephews.

A Mass of Remembrance for Dr. Michael Sommerville will be held on Saturday, August 18, at 11:30 a.m. in Saint Thomas More Chapel on the Saint Mary’s Winona campus. A reception will follow.

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