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Life Story / Obituary
With a life that spanned times of war and times peace, times of plenty and times of want, Catherine M. Somerville was an extraordinary woman to know and love. She was never one to worry about building wealth or accumulating possessions, rather, her focus was on living fully while holding her loved ones near. It was no secret that Catherine shared her journey with the love of her life, and together they witnessed their family tree blossom to include the numerous branches of loved ones she adored. An active part of the community she called home, she was the sort of person whom everyone seemed to know. Accompanied by a strong faith, Catherine’s life exemplified what it means to think of others ahead of herself. Her inner beauty and grace were easy to see, and her touch was so meaningful to all who were near. Catherine will never be forgotten.
The Roaring Twenties were an exciting time to be an American as innovation was taking us places we had never been. Radios, affordable cars, and refrigerators became part of our lives, and prosperity covered the nation. Amidst this eventful period was a time of great anticipation in the lives of William and Annie McFadden as they were eagerly awaiting the birth of their new baby as the bustle of the holiday season settled on the city of Detroit, Michigan, in 1928. The big day finally arrived on November 27th when the baby girl they named Catherine M. drew her first breath. She was one of five children in her family, a brother, William died in infancy. She was raised in Detroit alongside her 3 surviving siblings, Annie, Alice, and the second William. To support their family, Catherine’s father was an autoworker, and after his death, her mother became a nurse.
From the time she was a young girl, Catherine was a bustle of activity. She loved being social and was known to coordinate events and parties at her small family home, which nobody seemed to mind. Catherine also enjoyed hanging out on her front porch with her “gaggle” of girls. Because they thought they were too old for Girl Scouts, her troop formed the Amis Club, a group with which she had a lifelong association. Catherine graduated from local schools and then went on to Stephens College in Missouri and later earned her bachelor’s and master’s in education from Wayne State University.
Catherine's family belonged to Grace Episcopal Church. She began attending Redeemer Presbyterian Church with some other girls who lived on Avery. The Somerville Family belonged to Redeemer. She became involved in the Girl Scouts, evolving into the Amis Club, at Redeemer. She was in high school during the war, but graduated when the men were returning, and Catherine was smitten with the Scottish Airman, Hector Somerville. They began dating, and over time they fell deeply in love. With a desire to establish a life together, Catherine and Hector were married on February 1, 1952. Together they welcomed three children including Lee, Mark, and Brian into their hearts and home. From the moment she became a mother, Catherine fully immersed herself in the role. She was an active part of her sons’ lives, too. One of their favorite things to do was to head to Tigers games together, and she was an avid Tigers fan throughout her life. In addition to caring for her family, Catherine also worked as a teacher in the Detroit Public Schools. Additionally, she was a member of the Detroit Federation of Teachers.
In addition to her work, Catherine kept busy in other ways. She was a member of St. Paul Presbyterian, Amis Club, AAUW & AAUW Cooking Group, and she volunteered at DIA and Fort Street Open Door. She enjoyed the opera, went to her first jazz concert just last month, loved plays, concerts, and dinners with friends. Catherine was a world traveler who traveled extensively throughout the United States as well as to South America, Europe, China, and Russia. She was an avid reader, and as a child of the Great Depression she was very thrifty and loved scoping out garage sales for bargains. Catherine also clipped coupons with the best of them. She remained independent and outgoing well into her sunset years as she still drove herself to her volunteer work until just a short time before her death.
Gracious, kindhearted, and generous are just a few of the words that come to mind when reflecting on the life of Catherine Somerville. She lived fully, loved deeply, and generously gave of herself to all who were near. Catherine was a devoted wife, loving mother, and doting grandmother whose greatest source of pride and joy was found in her family. Although she will be deeply missed, Catherine’s family and friends find comfort in holding her memory near and dear to their hearts.
Catherine M. Somerville died on April 20, 2015. Catherine’s family includes her children, Lee (Matthew Zanardelli) Somerville, Mark (Edith), and Brian (Dorothy); grandchildren, Erin, Caitlin, and Brett; siblings, William McFadden and the late Annie McFadden, Alice Brinkley, and another brother William who died as an infant. Catherine was preceded in death by her husband, Hector. Family will receive friends at our Neely-Turowski Life Story Funeral Home 30200 Five Mile (between Merriman and Middle Belt) Thursday 2-9 p.m. with a funeral service Friday 11 a.m. at St. Paul Presbyterian Church, 27475 Five Mile, Livonia, 48154. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that a donation be made to either the Detroit Institute of Arts or the Fort Street Presbyterian Church Open Door program. Please sign the guest book at www.TurowskiLifeStory.com