Experience Making a Difference

Experience Making a Difference

In Loving and Grateful Memory

Ed Sommerfeldt

IVC Baltimore Volunteer

On Monday, May 14, IVC Baltimore volunteer Ed Sommerfeldt died peacefully, almost two years after being diagnosed with brain cancer.

Ed joined IVC Baltimore in 2007 after almost 40 years of teaching math and computer science at Coppin State University in Maryland.  Ed’s volunteer placement was Christopher Place Employment Academy, a center where men recovering from addiction receive tutoring and job readiness training as they prepare to re-enter the workforce and live independently. Ed tutored the men in math, preparing them to take the GED test, and also taught basic math literacy.

Diagnosed in September 2010, Ed faced his illness with courage, determination and optimism.  Through it all, he never lost sight of others around him who needed his help, presence and support, even as he himself was receiving those from family and friends.  Four months after his initial diagnosis, Ed returned to his two-day-per-week volunteer “job” at Christopher Place, and he did not want it any other way. His remission was relatively brief, and the effects of the cancer and its treatment eventually affected Ed’s ability to speak, to read and to make sense of numbers.  Although by the fall of 2011 he could not continue serving at Christopher Place, Ed attended most of our monthly meetings, the Della Strada award ceremony in late April, and even the May volunteer meeting only two weeks before his death. His presence and participation were great morale boosters for us.

Ed touched each of us, and so many others, with his incredible generosity, vibrant spirit, keen intellect, wry wit and compassionate presence.  We were privileged to observe his deep commitment to his God, his family, his fellow members of IVC and his volunteer work. We, and many others, are better people for having known him. We extend our deepest condolences to Ed’s wife, Nickie, his sons Paul and Tai and his extended family.  You can read Ed’s obituary here.

Some members of IVC Baltimore have shared their favorite memories of Ed, posted below. Requiēsce in pace, dear friend.

“I distinctly remember that very first meeting with Ed in 2007.

“He began that meeting in the same manner he began every subsequent meeting, ‘Have you read…?  I brought you a copy, and have marked the pages that really struck me.’  The very first book was Tomorrow’s Catholic (the book that IVC volunteers read this past year).

“Ed made me want to read each and every one of them, though his summaries often provided more than enough food for thought.  At the end of each meeting (once a professor, always a professor), my homework assignment for our next meeting was clear.

“And when his placement ended up being at Christopher Place, where I had once worked, I felt we were even more bonded. Our time together was always so rich no matter the book title or the topic. And each time Ed left my office, I felt blessed to have had that time together.”

-Catherine “Missy” Gugerty, SSND (IVC spiritual reflector/Ed’s reflector)

“Ed and I taught an introductory class in Ignatian Spirituality at St. Matthews some time ago.  We introduced the Suscipe prayer to that class—‘Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will.  All I have and call my own.  You have given all to me.  To you, Lord, I return it.  Everything is yours; do with it what you will.  Give me only your love and your grace; that is enough for me.’

“Ed claimed not to like this prayer, but, in reflecting upon his life and, especially, how he faced death, I am struck by how much he lived and died by these words.”

-Carol Rice (volunteer)

“I remember Ed for his presence (especially for his attendance at the IVC monthly meetings when his health was deteriorating), his genius in math and his relating it to spiritual realities, his warm heart, his desire to serve those in need through his assistance by way of the GED classes which he conducted at Our Daily Bread Employment Center, his courage under difficult physical limitations in recent months, and his perseverance in the last month of his life.  Despite his progressive weakening, Ed courageously attended the Della Strada Award Mass and Ceremony, and then the last IVC gathering on May 2nd, less than two weeks before he succumbed to death.  Fortunately, I had the opportunity to speak a few words of encouragement to Ed on both occasions, as well as giving him some outward physical sign with a gentle touch to his shoulder.  This was his gift to me in his final days.  May he rest in the tender, loving presence of the Lord.”

-Dick Horwitt (volunteer)

“Ed was just such a good person…so alive…so vibrant…such a mind…a man for others…a man for all of us.”

-Mollie Kilbourne (volunteer and regional council member)

“It was my misfortune to know Ed only for a short time. I joined IVC only in 2009 but I felt quality more than made up for quantity. He recommended to me my wonderful reflector, Missy Gugerty, so I felt bonded to him through this connection that we shared. But it was also his wonderful warmth of spirit. More than anything I remember his wonderful warm smile at the IVC events, even when he was gravely ill. We will miss you, Ed.”

-Jerry T. Lawler (volunteer)

“My favorite memories of Ed are the numerous long car rides to and from the retreats, especially Faulkner. What an incredible blessing to have these extended one-on-one conversations!”

-Patricia Skarupa (former volunteer)

“Ed was a great and friendly guy. He always had something to add at our monthly meetings. He struggled [to speak] near the end but he did his very best to communicate his thoughts to the group. This I will always always remember: that he was loving and steadfast to the end.”

-Tom Cotter (volunteer)