Mattie C. Sommerville,1929-2013

Mattie C. Sommerville, [1929-2013]; Teacher of math had a flair for drama


Mattie C. Sommerville, 84, who taught math and English in Toledo junior high schools and took part in community and church groups, died of lung cancer Wednesday in Hospice of Northwest Ohio, South Detroit Avenue.

Mrs. Sommerville, of Monclova Township, retired in the early 1990s from Old West End Junior High. She also taught at Glenwood School.

“She was very smart, good natured, patient. Very knowledgeable about what she was teaching,” said Dee Penn, a retired Toledo elementary school teacher and a friend. “She enjoyed bringing out the best they had and was good at it.”

“She had quite a reputation,” said her son, Joey, who substitute taught in her building after college. “She was no-nonsense and could handle any classroom situation. She was witty and kind and fair, and kids respected her and actually loved her.”

Mrs. Sommerville was known for her skill at dramatic reading in the classroom and co-led a workshop on dramatic interpretations and storytelling in church settings.

“My mom was a character,” said her son, a professional musician and entertainer. “A large part of my stage personality, I get it from my mother.”

Mrs. Sommerville was a former president of the Toledo chapter of the Links Inc., founded in the 1940s for black professional women. She was a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. and Coterie.

She and her husband were members of St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church, where she’d directed and taught vacation Bible school; was an officer in the missionary society, and took part in “this fund-raiser; that outreach program. It goes on and on and on,” her son said.

“Which is why she had a stream of people coming to see her. She got so much love at the end of her days because she gave so much love throughout her life,” he said.

Born Jan. 17, 1929, in Lawrenceburg, Ky., she was a graduate of Lincoln Institute, a boarding school for black students in Lincoln Ridge, Ky. She received a bachelor’s degree from Kentucky State University and a master's degree from the University of Michigan, where she met her husband, Joseph.

She taught in Kentucky and Birmingham, Ala., and Inkster, Mich. The family moved in 1970, when her husband was hired by the University of Toledo, where he taught and in time became chairman of the educational leadership department.

Mr. Sommerville was a trustee of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library and president of AARP’s Ohio chapter. She often accompanied him on trips nationwide.

Surviving are her husband, Joseph, whom she married Dec. 20, 1955; sons, Joseph, Jr., and Barry, and three grandchildren.

Funeral services will be at noon Saturday in St. Paul Missionary Baptist, with a wake at 11 a.m. Visitation is to take place in the church from 5-8 p.m. Friday, with services by the AKA Sorority at 6 p.m.; Coterie at 6:30 p.m., and Links Inc. at 7 p.m. Arrangements are by Dale-Riggs Funeral Home.

The family suggests tributes to the church’s special projects fund or a charity of the donor’s choice.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: or 419-724-6182.