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John Sommer

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John Sommer Obituary
John Sommer, 76, longtime resident of Dummerston, VT, and Dean of the Study Abroad Program at the School for International Training from 1981-1999, passed away on November 11 after a long and gallant struggle against multiple myeloma. He had decided to forego further ameliorative treatment in part to protest drug company policies and the unsustainable drain of the elderly's health costs on US government budgets.

Raised in Montclair, NJ, he received his BA from Wesleyan University in 1963, and his MA from Johns Hopkins School for International Studies (SAIS) in 1968. His career, dedicated to advancing international understanding and development, began as a volunteer building schools in South Vietnam with International Voluntary Services (IVS). His 1969 book Viet Nam-The Unheard Voices, co-authored with Don Luce, chronicled a growing concern about US action in Vietnam during the late sixties.

From 1970-1975 he served with the Ford Foundation in New Delhi, India, and from 1975-1980, in Washington, DC, where he had senior positions at the Peace Corps and USAID. In 1981 he moved to Vermont to become SIT's first Dean of the Study Abroad program. Under his leadership over 14,000 students participated in over 40 countries; in his honor, SIT established a scholarship in his name. In 2001 he served as Vice President of Eisenhower Fellowships, an exchange program for emerging world leaders based in Philadelphia.

He returned in 2007 to Dummerston, relishing the beloved view from his deck, swims under the covered bridge, and the excellence of the community's musical offerings, especially Marlboro and the Brattleboro Music Center. His love of chocolate and puns followed him wherever he went.

In addition to his devoted children, Julia, of Maplewood, NJ, and Paul, of Danville, PA, their spouses Alex and Sarah, and five beloved grandchildren, he leaves behind his partner, Ann Wright-Parsons, of Brattleboro, VT, his former wife, Wendy Solmssen Sommer of Washington, DC, and his brother, Peter, of Atlanta, GA.

Gifts in his memory may be made to the Unitarian Universalist Association's Holdeen India Program, where he served as Chairman of the Advisory Board.
Published in Brattleboro Reformer on Nov. 22, 2017
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