John Somerville

Industry pioneer John Somerville passed away on Feb. 12, 2015. He was the co-founder of Somerville Nurseries, Everett, Ont. His contributions were profiled in an October, 2012, Landscape Ontario magazine story, John Somerville honoured for his lifetime of achievement. Read the story here, as well as an appreciative column about family business leaders by Landscape Ontario's Tony DiGiovanni.


Eulogy delivered on Feb. 16, 2015, by grandson James T. Somerville:
 
I’d like to begin with something I read last year while writing an essay on urban forestry that has resonated with me ever since.

“A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit under.”  - Greek Proverb

My grandfather was a great man, who exemplified this proverb through his life’s accomplishments.  John was an explorer of things, and always had an active mind.  Throughout his life he became interested in photography, radio, geology, history, drawing, and painting, motorcycles and airplanes, and of course, growing trees.  He had a deep passion for Ontario’s forests, and was instrumental in a lot of its regrowth. His work and his legacy speak for themselves in the trees that already tower throughout the county and across Southern Ontario.

Even through all of his suffering at the end of his life, my grandfather would greet me with a smile, bright eyes, and a firm handshake (that would sometimes last the duration of my visit!).  I’d ask him how he was doing, and he’d always reply with a positive “Fine, thank you.” or “I am doing well, thank you.”  I knew him as an intelligent, sincere and deeply interesting man.

Gathering here for this occasion, forces us to reflect on us of the impermanence of all things.  That nothing is forever, and that our time here is limited. I think my grandfather understood this very well, and perhaps this is what compelled him to plant trees and manage forests instead of only cutting them down, to care for those around him, and to never stop learning and growing.  My grandfather has deeply inspired me, and I hope to follow in his footsteps.

Speaking on behalf of all of his grandchildren, we are proud to have had you as our grandfather.  It was wonderful to have known you, and we will all miss you dearly. Rest in peace, Grandpa.

Obituary:

John Thomson Somerville

Bachelor of Science Forestry (1949) WWII RCAF

Passed away peacefully at Matthews House Hospice, Alliston on February 12, 2015 in his 92nd. year.

Beloved husband of Jean. Loved father of Tom (Kim), Fred and Robert (Kathy). Loving Grandpa of Lindsay, Justin, James, Thomson and Dana. John will be fondly remembered by his nieces, nephews and many friends.

Family received friends at the Drury Funeral Centre in Alliston on Feb. 15. The funeral service was held at the St. John's United Church in Alliston on Feb. Interment Alliston Union Cemetery.