John Clarence Sommerstad passed away peacefully on Sunday the 20th of September 2020, at 93 years old, in Victoria B.C.
John was born on April 15th, 1927 in Blackie, Alberta, to parents Ole and Mildred. He was the youngest of three brothers and the last surviving member of the family.
John learned a strong work ethic from his father, an immigrant from Norway, who could not pronounce his son’s name and thus John was dubbed Clarence for most of his life. That is until his 90th year when he proclaimed that he never liked the name Clarence and we should all call him John now! And so, we did!
Ole established the family farm near Okotoks and much later in life John would establish his own family farm next door to where he grew up. John attended Turner Valley high School where he met and married his high school sweetheart, Rose Marie McDonald, on the 23rd of June 1948. He was a devoted husband for over 70 years before Rose passed in 2018.
The couple witnessed the historic Turner Valley oil and gas boom in the light of the flares. John worked on the rigs in the early years while also running a dairy farm. They later went into the cinema business, owning a theatre in Innisfail and Turner Valley. John was known to work several jobs concurrently – film projectionist for the theatre at night and licensed appraiser and credit advisor for Farm Credit Corporation during the day. John thoroughly enjoyed meeting people and helping others. For many years, he volunteered as Vice-chair on the Okotoks General Hospital and other community organizations. John was successful in all his ventures in life, including building up the farm operations that remained a constant up into his 70’s. The farm was a healthy lifestyle that allowed for seasonal travel. John and Rose travelled the world from Norway, to most of Europe, from Fiji to the Caribbean, and an annual stint in Hawaii. They maintained throughout their lives a heartfelt and strong connection to the land and communities of southern Alberta where they were raised. Later in life, they moved to Victoria BC, to settle on the coast near family.
John was of strong character - incredibly independent, industrious, charming, caring, selfless and generous, with a good sense of humour and an unwavering positive attitude to life. We all knew his classic response to “how are you?” He was always “good as new”. And in his last days- “Don’t worry it will get better.” The granddaughters affectionately called him earth angel. We aspire to be like him.
John will be dearly missed by his family: son Wayne (Joan), daughter Debora Linehan and son, Michael Linehan, and grand-daughters Tara (John), McCahil (Alan), Morgan (Rhys), and Kelly (Kevin). He outlived nearly all of his own generation of family and friends, bearing witness to an extraordinary era.
John will be laid to rest in the Okotoks Cemetery, along with Rose, her parents and grandparents. A celebration of life for family will be held sometime in summer 2021; members of the community are invited to share memories and well wishes here on John's tribute wall.