| With strains of “Yellow Dog Blues” playing in the background, RES peacefully crossed the great divide on Saturday, Oct. 5th, 2013, at his home on Pelican Lake, the very same lake he first came to as a two week old child in July of 1932.
Born in La Crosse, WI, on 7/11/32 to mother Edith and father Alfred Sommer, Richard spent the summers of his youth on Pelican Lake’s Antigo Island forging life-long friendships and becoming an outdoorsman in the model of Earnest Hemingway, shooting, carousing, and enjoying life to the fullest, much of what he did as a member of the Ale & Quail Club.
Like many youth of his era, Richard was also a veteran of the United States Army, fighting the communists in Korea, and forever after honoring the birth of our nation with his grand fireworks displays and John Philip Sousa music punctuated by Titanium Salutes.
And those that didn’t know Richard from the lake, the woods, or any of the Northwoods taverns where he was the first to buy a round, knew Richard from the courtroom where he was most happy verbally sparring with the best lawyers the defense could present.
Richard received his undergraduate degree from Northwestern in 1957, and his law degree from Wisconsin in 1960. He was a member of the Oneida-Vilas-Forest County Bar Association and the State Bar of Wisconsin. He was admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court, and the U.S. District Court, including the Eastern and Western Districts of Wisconsin. He served on the Board of Governors of the Wisconsin State Bar, the Wisconsin Bar’s Executive Committee and served as President of the Wisconsin State Bar from 1979-1980.
Whether appearing in small-claims court or arguing before the Supreme Court, Richard was on the side of the little guy, most notably in the case of Chart v. General Motors, where he successfully argued before the Supreme Court that GM was liable for injuries caused by a defectively designed automobile.
Most recently Richard was nominated as a Fellow of the Wisconsin Law Foundation. Considered a professional honor and evidence of professional distinction, membership is limited to 2.5% of the Bar’s members. A member is honored for their significant career accomplishments and for the leadership they have provided within their community.
And now the house by Pelican Lake that Richard shared with his wife Susan, who was the love of his life and their son Jon, is quiet. So too are those Northwoods taverns, and there will be no more shaggy-dog stories that had listeners at the edge of their dining-room chairs or barstools waiting to hear that punch-line that only Richard could deliver.
You are all cordially invited to gather with us at the Rusty Nail tavern in Rhinelander on November 3rd, between 1pm and 5pm, to hoist a glass and tell your favorite story of Richard.
You may leave your private condolences for the Sommer family at www.carlsonfh.com. The Carlson Funeral Home (715-369-1414) is handling the arrangement for the Sommer family. |