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NORTHFIELD CENTER -- Trustees called for a moment of silence at their June 5 meeting and township flags were lowered to half-staff in honor of former Trustee Brent Sommer, who died following a boating accident in Florida, where he had moved after resigning his seat on the Board of Trustees in January.
Calling hours are scheduled for May 13 from 4 to 8 p.m. and May 14, from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. at Ferfolia's Funeral Home, 356 W. Aurora Road in Sagamore Hills. A funeral procession will meet at Ferfolia's at 9 a.m. June 15, and proceed to a mass at 10 a.m. Lunch and a procession returning to Ferfolia's will follow the mass.
Mr. Sommer was a lifelong resident of Northfield Center with decades of service as a road worker, zoning commission member, and member of the board of zoning of appeals. He served as a volunteer fire fighter and E.M.T from 1974 to 1983, as well as 10 years as a Trustee. Sommer's father, Marvin Sommer, was also a Trustee.
Mr. Sommer was a 1974 graduate of Nordonia High School and was owner/operator of Sommer Steemer Carpet Cleaning.
According to the Cape Coral Daily Breeze, Mr. Sommer, 61, had been piloting a 21-foot Chris-Craft May 27 about 12:55 p.m. in the Caloosahatchee River, when it abruptly turned hard to the starboard side.
Mr. Sommer's family posted details about the accident June 1 on the website www.caringbridge.org and stated Mr. Sommer was pulled unconscious and without a pulse from the water after the accident, but regained his heartbeat and started breathing after emergency treatment at the scene. He suffered cardiac arrest enroute to the hospital and remained unconscious in the intensive care unit, where he was in stable, but critical condition.
On June 5, the family announced his death, stating Mr. Sommer had been "surrounded by a large group of family and friends" when he died.
"The doctors had presented us with results of new tests and it was apparent that God decided it is his wish that Brent be with him. We are absolutely devastated that we have now lost that which is more important to us than anything else. Our wonderful husband and father has sailed to be with God and he has a new home port where he will be waiting for us," the family stated.
"Brent was a giant amongst men. He was a man that always served others his family, his friends, the community, and complete strangers. There was nothing that this man would not do for others. He was always doing the right thing. If ever you needed help with anything or to talk to somebody that really cared, all you had to do was hit the direct dial labeled 'BRENT,' and everything would be solved," the family stated.
The District 21 Medical Examiner's Office in Ft. Myers, Fla. confirmed Mr. Sommer's death, but would not comment further, citing an ongoing investigation into the accident.
Local officials who worked with Mr. Sommer said they were saddened by his death.
Northfield Center Trustee Paul Buescher called Mr. Sommer "My friend," in an email to township residents.
He told the News Leader that he first met Mr. Sommer when candidates for Township Trustee met in a coffee shop prior to the 2005 election.
"Once Brent and I got into office, I found him to be a really well-known and liked person throughout the community. He was a real people person. I miss working with him," he said.
On hearing the news Mr. Sommer was moving to Florida, Buescher said he told himself, "Whatever he does down in Florida, he's going to make a lot of friends ... Every time you go to talk to someone, they ask 'How's Brent ... what's he up to?'"
Northfield Center Trustee Rich Reville, who said he last saw Mr. Sommer at a restaurant with his family in January, said he is very sorry for Mr. Sommer's family for their loss.
Reville said he met Mr. Sommer many years ago through Mr. Sommer's cleaning business and as a township worker in various capacities. Reville said he even helped Mr. Sommer with his election campaigns.
"I felt that he would do a good job because he had a real concern for the residents," Reville said. "He has worked on a lot of things for the community."
Jeff Cole, executive director of Cable 9 community television, said he first met Mr. Sommer in 1982, when his father Marvin Sommer represented Northfield Center on the community television board of directors.
"With as many people that I have met here over the years, there are few people I can say I've never heard a negative thing said about them -- he was a super nice person," Cole said.
Laura Sparano, CEO of the Nordonia Hills Chamber of Commerce, said she first met Mr. Sommer while working on the former Tourist Bureau and Information Center, which had been located for many years on the corner of routes 8 and 82 in Macedonia.
"He was a very nice guy," she said.
John Campbell, chairman of the Northfield Center Zoning Commission, also said Mr. Sommer was a "nice guy."
"And I think he was an honest guy. I really enjoyed my experience working with him," he said.
Another township official, Basil Lovano, who has served on the zoning commission and North Hills Water Board for years, said Mr. Sommer will be missed.
"I knew Marvin and (Brent's mother) Carol -- they're just a great family," he said, adding Brent's father had urged him to become involved in township government as a way of "giving back to the community."
"Brent was the same way. We're going to miss him."
The family said members of the public should consult www.caringbridge.org and search for Brent Sommer for further information.
Eric Marotta: 330-541-9433