Francis A. Somers
1923 - 2021
{ "" }
Share Francis's life story with friends and family
Send an Email
Or Copy this URL to Share
Somers, Francis A. Of Kalamazoo, MI Francis Aloysius Somers died January 13, 2021 in Kalamazoo, Mich. He was 97. Frank was born to Aloysius Joseph and Christine Donovan Somers on April 14, 1923. He was raised on a corn farm in Fairbury, Ill., with no electricity or running water and attended a one-room school. He graduated from Kankakee High School and spent one semester at San Diego State University before joining the war effort. He welded Liberty Ships in Richmond, Calif., then enlisted in the US Army in 1943. Frank served as a forward observer with the Army's 89th Chemical-Mortar Battalion until 1945. He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for an operation at the Rhine River in which he was instrumental in the transport of 50 enemy soldiers. After the war, with the help of the GI Bill, Frank enrolled in the University of Illinois, attending at the same time as his brother, John, an Air Force vet, and their sister, Mary. In 1948, Frank arrived in Kalamazoo with a degree in business looking for work. He found a job and met Barbara Frances Brownell, a student at Northwestern University. After a long-distance courtship, they were married on Sept. 15, 1951. He began his career with Sutherland Paper Company and had a succession of responsibilities in sales, marketing and management as Sutherland became KVP/ Sutherland, Brown Company, and ultimately James River Corporation. Each promotion took the growing family to a new city. Sarah was born in Kalamazoo; Chris in Omaha, Neb.; Fran in Des Moines, Iowa; and Tom in Overland Park, Kan. Each new move offered opportunities to pack the family in the station wagon and explore historic sites, usually with Frank leading rounds of "Hail to the Orange." Frank's job brought the family back to Kalamazoo in 1965 and then to Saratoga, Calif., in 1971, where Frank managed a paper plant. A year later, the family made one last move--back to Kalamazoo. Frank retired in 1988 as Group Vice President of the Specialty Papers Division, which included the KVP operations in Parchment and plants in Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Illinois, New Jersey and Massachusetts. During his years in Kalamazoo, Frank served on several boards, including Western Michigan University's Paper Technology Foundation. After retiring, Frank and Barbara returned to Northern California and built a home on the coast in Bodega Bay. Retirement left more time for tennis, golf, sailing and travel. Frank and Barbara visited Europe, China, Russia, South America and Australia. They made several trips to Ireland with the family researching his roots in County Mayo. In 2016, Barbara and Frank settled comfortably into Friendship Village in Kalamazoo. Frank is survived by Barbara; his children: Sarah Somers of Kalamazoo; Christine Decker (David) of Park City, Utah; Frances Somers (Lawrence Johnson) of Seattle, Wash.; and Thomas Somers (Stephanie) of Centreville, Va.; his sister, Mary Steenhausen of Carmel, Ind.; his brother James Somers (Beverly) of Forrest, Ill.; nine grandchildren: Patrick Duff, Edward Jury; Dylan Decker (Samantha), Pearce Decker; Charles Johnson, Madeline Johnson; Duncan Somers, Claire Somers, Luke Somers; one great-grandchild (Fiona Decker); and 10 nieces and nephews. The family will gather this summer at the cottage on Crystal Lake near Frankfort, Mich., to celebrate Frank's life. Friends who wish to make a remembrance could consider Ministry With Community or Rose Arbor Hospice. Visit Frank's personalized web page at:

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in Kalamazoo Gazette from Jan. 23 to Jan. 24, 2021.
Memories & Condolences
Guest Book sponsored by The Family
Not sure what to say?
3 entries
February 1, 2021
On behalf of the WMU Department of Chemical and Paper Engineering and the Paper Technology Foundation we would like to express our deepest condolences on the passing of Mr. Somers. His dedication to the paper industry is a storied one and we appreciate his service to the Paper Technology Foundation! We pray for comfort, healing and peace for his family during this difficult time.
Tim Hagenbuch
January 25, 2021
It is clear Frank lived an adventurous life and was very loved by his family! His service in the war was commendable! Sending his family love and hoping all the best memories you have gladden your heart.
Liz Barrett
January 24, 2021
Mr. Somers had the respect and support of labor in Parchment over the years he served as a Vice President in the paper industry. I do not recall anyone ever having anything negative to say about this respected leader. Reading his background resume involving his military service and experience in the paper industry must make his family very proud. His long life is one all of us hope to replicate. To his entire family go our thoughts and prayers in his passing.
Richard Teremi Sr.
Invite others to add memories
Share to let others add their own memories and condolences