Richard Sommers ’64

16 May 2019

Class: 1964

Major: History

Residence: Carlisle, PA

Deceased: May 14, 2019

Dr. Richard ”Dick” Sommers was born on August 11, 1942, He grew up in Calumet City, Illinois where he graduated from Thornton Fractional North High School. At Carleton, Dick majored in history. He earned his Ph.D. at Rice University.
Dick devoted his 44-year professional career to military history in the U.S. Army Military History Institute / U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center / U.S. Army War College at Carlisle Barracks. Even in nominal “retirement”, he taught one course each July. In 2015, the War College designated him a ”Distinguished Fellow”. Besides his official government service, Dick pursued his personal scholarship through his own books, articles, and presentations on military history, especially on the Civil War. His ”Richmond Redeemed: The Siege at Petersburg” remains a classic which inspired a whole genre in that field. The expanded 150th anniversary of that book earned the Army Historical Foundation’s Distinguished Writing Award as the best book of 2014. His most recent book, ”Challenges of Command in the Civil War” was published in 2018.
In 2008, Dick hosted a memorable mini reunion in Carlisle for the Class of 1964 that included a day-long tour of the Gettysburg battlefield that Dick personally conducted for approximately 50 classmates and spouses.
Dick met Tracy through their mutual love of the Civil War. They married in 2011 and collaborated on Civil War scholarship. Dick and Tracy resided in Carlisle, Pennsylvania where they were active members of the First Presbyterian Church. Dick served many years as a ruling elder and clerk of session there.
In March 2018, Dick discovered that he had a brain tumor. Surgery proved successful but the tumor recurred later that year. A second surgery at the same site restored most of his abilities. In February, a second tumor was discovered at a deeper site. Dick died on May 14, 2019 after only several weeks of inactivity. In addition to his wife Tracy, he is survived by his brother Walter, a niece and two nephews.

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