Mary Joan Johnley Sommer

Mary Joan Johnley Sommer, formerly of Portsmouth, died Monday, April 23, 2018 at Bayley Place, Cincinnati, Ohio.  Joan was 95 years old. 

Predeceased in 2010 by her husband of sixty-five years, Ralph B. Sommer, Sr., her two brothers, Paul J. Johnley and John F. Johnley, Jr., and her parents, Attorney John F. Johnley and Winifred Walsh Johnley, all of Portsmouth, Ohio, she is survived by her six children, her 18 grandchildren, and 23 great-grandchildren.

Born, raised and a life-long resident of Portsmouth, Ohio until Ralph and Joan moved to Bayley Place in 2006, Joan was a graduate of Holy Redeemer High School (n/k/a Notre Dame High School) in Portsmouth and of the College of Mount St. Joseph on the Ohio, graduating cum laude in 1944.

The first graduate of Mount St. Joseph’s recognized accounting program, Joan never practiced; instead she devoted her life to her family, friends and neighbors, and even taught business classes in the Minford School System during World War II.  A member at one time or another of a few dozen groups, clubs, religious, genealogy and education organizations, she was a woman who lived by the phrase – want something done, give it to a busy person.  This guidance was not lost on her six children.  Joan was the family “prayer warrior,” always offering a devotion for someone in need – her prayers worked.  She was a wonderful mother and a strong woman.  

A lifelong supporter of the Catholic Church as well as its education mission, between her six children, strongly motivated and supported by Joan, they accumulated a total of 94 years of catholic-based primary, secondary and post-secondary schooling.  Primary amongst these were Holy Redeemer Elementary, Portsmouth Notre Dame High School, the College of Mount St. Joseph and Xavier University, all institutions special to Joan.  The Joan J. and Ralph B. Sommer Memorial Book Scholarship at NDHS is but one example of this. 

An avid Xavier University Basketball and thoroughbred horseracing fan, she was known as Nana to her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  One Nana expression could motivate you to do what was appropriate, right, correct, just or needed.  She was a wonderful grandmother.  Joan stayed sharp until her last weeks, and what a blessing that was for all who knew her. 

Strong yet gentle, frank and loving throughout her life, she will be missed by all who knew her.  The family thanks all of the staff of Bayley Place for being such wonderful caregivers to Joan, and to Ralph, while residents there for the past twelve years.

Joan is survived by Joan Ellen (Sommer) Frist of Carlisle, PA; Anne-Marie (Sommer) Wagner [Richard], Cincinnati, OH; Maureen (Sommer) Bassler [Michael] of McDermott, OH; Ralph Barney Sommer, Jr. [Paula] of San Ramon, CA; M. Regina (Sommer) Arms [John, Sr.] of Hilliard, OH; and, Mark Sommer [Bridget] of Louisville, KY; 18 grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren scattered all across the country, along with many cousins, nieces and nephews, and in-laws carrying names such as Walsh, Joyce, Finn, Haley, Sommer, O’Brien, Johnley, and a dozen more.

Arrangements are being provided by Melcher Funeral Home of Portsmouth, Ohio  Visitation will be held at Melcher Funeral Home on Friday, April 27, 2018 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.; the Holy Rosary, Joan’s daily devotion, will be recited at 7:30 p.m.  In lieu of flowers, donations to the Bayley Place [] or to Hospice [] would be most valued.

A Catholic Mass of burial will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, April 28, 2018 at Holy Redeemer Catholic Church, 1325 Gallia Street, Portsmouth, Ohio[].  Graveside prayers and internment at Greenlawn Cemetery in Portsmouth will be Monday, April 30, 2018 at 2:30 PM

Categories: News, Obituaries