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Obituary – Roy Elmer Sommerfeld

Roy Elmer Sommerfeld passed away peacefully, surrounded by his family, at UNC Hospitals, 11 July 2007.  He was born 8 May 1914 in Benton Harbor, Michigan.  His parents were Conrad Lewis and Amelia (Maikowski) Sommerfeld.  His siblings, Kenneth W. (Aina), Elmer A. (Margaret) and Irma L. Rode (Ed, deceased) all predeceased him.

Roy received his bachelor’s degree from Western State Teachers College (now Western Michigan University) in 1937.  He began his teaching career at Edwardsburg High School, Edwardsburg, MI.  He moved to Ann Arbor, MI, in 1940 to begin graduate studies at the University of Michigan.

In February 1941, he was drafted into the United States Army, serving at Ft. Eustis (Williamsburg), VA, Camp Davis, NC and Ft. Sheridan (Highland Park), IL before being shipped overseas.  While on Christmas leave, he married Emma E. Kedney in Ann Arbor, on 6 January, 1942.  At Ft. Sheridan, his family was enlarged by the arrival of a daughter, Martha Lucille, in 1943.  He served with distinction as the commander of an anti-aircraft squadron in the South Pacific, returning to the US in 1946, when he was discharged as a captain.

He then re-entered the University of Michigan to resume his graduate studies. While in Ann Arbor, sons Roy Thomas arrived in 1948 and William Peter in 1950.  Roy received his PhD in Educational Psychology in 1952.  Roy sang in the University of Michigan Men’s Glee Club, the Choral Union and the church choir.

The family then moved to Stillwater, OK, where he served on the faculty of Oklahoma A & M (now Oklahoma State University).  While in Oklahoma, he officiated baseball, basketball and football, as well as an occasional track meet.  He also performed in local theater productions.  The family tent camped in Colorado frequently, venturing to Mesa Verde, the Petrified Forest, and Zion, Bryce and Grand Canyons.

In 1956 the family moved to Chapel Hill, where Roy joined the faculty of the School of Education at UNC.  He taught Educational Psychology, Testing and Measurements and several other classes.  He served (or chaired) several dissertations committees.

He retired from UNC in 1979 as a full professor.  While teaching at the university, he continued officiating basketball and football through the 1960s.

Roy was a charter member of the Chapel Hill Civitan Club, serving as secretary, bulletin editor and president, as well as district candy box chair, district fruit cake chair and area lieutenant governor.  He and his wife attended many Civitan International conventions around the world.  They also traveled extensively outside the country for pleasure.  The family continued camping on the coast and in the NC mountains.  Roy was an active member of the choir at University United Methodist Church.  He frequently served as soloist and bass section leader and sometimes substitute director.  He was an outstanding gardener and woodworker.

He is survived by his children, Marti Hearron (Art, deceased), Tom (Elinore) and Pete.  Also surviving are a sister-in-law, Aina Summerfelt, and several nieces and nephews.

Cremation has already taken place.  A memorial service was held at University United Methodist Church in Chapel Hill, 15 July 2007 at 3 pm.  In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the Boys & Girls Home of NC, the music fund at the University United Methodist Church, the Hearron/Sommerfeld Scholarship in Musical Theatre Performance at Western Michigan University, the University of Michigan Library or the charity of your choice.

Arrangements by the Cremation Society of the Carolinas.  Online condolences: www.cremnc.com

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