James 'Jim' Robert Somerville
April 6, 2023
IRONWOOD, Mich. - We are sad to announce the unexpected passing of James "Jim" Robert Somerville. Born on Nov. 10, 1939, Jim grew up in East Lansing.
After graduating from Resurrection High School, he joined the U.S. Navy, serving for two years aboard the USS Hartley.
Returning from the Navy, Jim attended and graduated from Michigan State University in 1965 earning a Bachelor of Science in landscape architecture. Anyone that met Jim knew he was a passionate fan of the Michigan State Spartans! Go Green!
While attending MSU, he met and married the love of his life, Martha J. Comerford,, on June 22, 1963.
They raised five children: Timothy, Patrick, Bart, Jane and Ann. He was grandfather to William Somerville, and James "J.T.", Clare, Mary and John Besanceney. He fervently supported all of his children in their variety of athletic pursuits and he was a devoted family man who took great joy in all the time he spent with his grandchildren.
First hired by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, he then accepted a landscape architect position with the U.S. Forest Service-Ottawa National Forest at the supervisor's office in Ironwood in 1966. His career spanned 35 years, retiring in June 2001. He was the recreation site planner for the Sylvania Recreation and Wilderness Area, Black River Harbor Recreation Area, North Country National Scenic Trail and many more. In addition to his role as a landscape architect, he also served as the recreation staff officer, planning staff officer and assistance forest supervisor.
Upon retirement, Jim started his own landscape design and construction business, "Go Green."
As always, Jim continued to contribute to the community by improving the grounds adjacent to the Rectory at Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church, designing the Veterans Monument, working at the Sisu cross-country ski race and helping out at Festival Ironwood. Jim could always be counted on to help out around the neighborhood whenever he was needed.
He loved working in his yard and meticulously kept his lawn and gardens in pristine shape. He loved to shovel and enjoyed helping others during the long U.P. winters.
Jim was an avid outdoorsman with a great love of nature. He was a natural athlete who loved to fish, hunt and play baseball, softball and golf. In his 40s, Jim decided to join the running craze and completed countless races and marathons. His 3:42:15 finishing time at the 1991 Boston Marathon, at the age of 52, while running with his son, Bart, was one of his proudest accomplishments.
He worked tirelessly on the Copper Peak ski flying hill and his expertise sculpting the landing hill led to him being selected to work in a similar role at the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics.
A big part of his life was service. Jim was very active in the Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church acting as an usher, greeter and altar server for funerals.
Jim is survived by his wife of 60 years, Martha "Marty" Somerville; his children, Timothy (Tracy) Somerville, Bart, Jane (Ryan) Skarpetowski and Ann (Chris) Besanceney; his grandchildren, William Somerville, and James "J.T.", Clare, Mary and John Besanceney; and his siblings, Sue Farrell, Bill Somerville and Mary Jo Langell.
He was preceded in death by his son, Patrick; parents, Josephine and Bill Somerville; and his sister, Janet Moore.
Jim was intensely social. He and Marty loved spending time with their many great friends, traveling to Tiger games, football games, visiting grandchildren and otherwise just having a good time!
Visitation for Jim will be held on Monday, April 3, from 10 to 11 a.m. at Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church in Ironwood. Mass of Christian Burial will follow at the church at 11 a.m. with Fr. Brian Gerber officiating with military honors conducted by the Ironwood American Legion Post. Burial will take place in the spring at Riverside Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to to Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church, 108 S. Marquette St., Ironwood, MI 49938.
The family has chosen the McKevitt-Patrick Funeral Home in Ironwood to honor Jim's legacy of life. To make an online condolence visit McKevittPatrickFuneralHome.com.