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Chet Sommers, age 83, of Willmar, died Thursday afternoon, Aug. 8, at Carris Health Rice Memorial Hospital in Willmar.
A Celebration of Life service will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 16, at Calvary Lutheran Church. Interment will be in the church cemetery with military honors provided by the Willmar American Legion Post #167. Visitation will be from 6-8 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 15, at Peterson Brothers Funeral Home and will continue for one hour prior to the service at the church. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Rice Care Hospice or the Calvary Lutheran Church Grand Piano Fund in honor of Chet.
Chesley “Chet” Nyland Sommers was born on April 9, 1936, in Warren, Minnesota, the son of Arthur and Inga Sommers. He was baptized and confirmed at First Lutheran Church in Warren Minnesota. He graduated from Warren High School in 1954, and served his country in the United States Navy and Navy Reserve. He attended Bemidji State Teachers College and graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Music Education. In 1961, Chet married Sharon Jean Skramstad in Chisholm, Minnesota. After teaching music in Lake Bronson and Lancaster Minnesota, Chet completed his Master's Degree in Music Education at the University of North Dakota. In 1964, Chet and Sharon moved to Willmar where they raised three children, Mark, Phillip and Stephanie. Chet began the music department at the newly founded Willmar Community College where he directed the choir, orchestra and band. During the summer months Chet attended the University of Colorado and achieved a Doctorate in Musical Arts. He invested his time and talent in the Willmar community where he directed the Willmar Community Choir, Orchestra and West Central Singers. He served as president of the West Central Concert Series and was involved in and brought countless musical and theatrical productions to the Willmar area. He was proudly awarded the Good Neighbor Award by WCCO and honored for his work by the American Choral Directors Association. Chet was a devout man of faith and served as choral director at both Vinje and Calvary Lutheran Church for over three decades. After retirement, Chet spent his time tuning pianos as well as fishing at the family cabin on Lake of the Woods. He was an avid fisherman, outdoorsman, conservationist and pilot. Out of all rewards in life, Chet would say his greatest were family, especially his grandchildren who he taught to fish.
He is survived by his wife, Sharon; a son, Mark (and Lynnette) Sommers of Willmar, a daughter, Stephanie (and Douglas) Fornfeist of Temple, TX.; daughter-in-law, Brenda Anderson Sommers of Sartell; eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, besides other relatives and many friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents; three brothers, Robert, Edward and George and his son, Phillip in 2015.
Hoping your happiest memories are forefront for all the Sommers family. You are very special people to Mary and me for your love of music and your great work and contributions in education.
Doug & Mary WWilkowske Aug 16 2019 12:00 AM
I have fond memories of Mr Sommers as my choir director and as my neighbor. My deepest sympathy to the family.
Janet Molnau Aug 14 2019 12:00 AM
Thankful that you had a wonderful daddy and grandpa! We are praying for peace. We love all of you- The Rosebrocks
Aug 13 2019 12:00 AM
Not only did Chet tune my piano, I went to the now Ridgewater College. He has made a difference in the lives of many - and I was blessed to be one of them. There truly is another angel and this one will certainly enhance the music up there! My prayers to the whole family during this tremendous loss.
Kathy (Anderson) Nelson Aug 12 2019 12:00 AM
Mary Louise Wallin Aug 11 2019 12:00 AM
Thank you Chet for the years of bringing and encouraging beautiful music in the Willmar Area. Along with many other members of the Willmar Area Symphonic Orchestra under your direction, I'll fondly remember the many rehearsals and concerts under your direction, but even more importantly, your friendship and encouragement over the years.
Robert Whitney Aug 10 2019 12:00 AM
To Chet's family, I'll be forever grateful for so many great pieces of music that Chet gave us to sing, many years ago, in the Willmar Junior College Choir. They were rarely or never offered by other conductors I sang with. I think of him when Christmas comes around, and we listen to the beautiful and unique Alfred Burt Carols. And my memory takes me to the choir room, where I can still hear us singing as he conducted the early American songs of William Billings. He gave us the greatest gift by introducing us to Brahm's Requiem. I picture our choir, standing on the stage during the performance, almost in tears, as he conducted this exceptional piece of music . . . it was so moving, and It has stayed with me for years. And when I hear it on the radio, I take out my old copy of the music and sing along, and think again, of that long ago performance. Teachers make a difference in the lives of students and are remembered; he certainly was. My sympathy to you, his family. Here are words from Brahm's requiem, that may give you peace:Behold, All Flesh is as the grass, and all the goodliness of man is as the flower of grass.But Lo, the grass withereth, and the flowers thereof decayeth . . .But yet the Lords word endureth, endureth forever more!The redeemed of the Lord shall return again and come rejoicing unto Zion!Joy and Gladness everlasting . . . these shall be their portion!Tears and sighing shall flee from them,And joy upon their heads shall be.Joann Jasmer ParkerSt Paul MN
Joann Jasmer Parker Aug 9 2019 12:00 AM