Life Story: Judy Sommerland

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Twin Cities family is dealing with the loss of a woman admired for her creativity, high energy, and many talents. Her husband was her biggest fan.

“She was really easy to live with, 52 years of joy,” her husband Gary Sommerland said.

Judy Sommerland had an eye for art and knew how to work with colors to brighten up any room. She lived life to the fullest, knowing she was at risk of developing a debilitating disease.

“We got along here fairly nice for quite a few years. We built this in ’75,” Gary said of their home.

Judy Sommerland was a woman with style. She worked at an architectural firm in Minneapolis in the 1970s and after marrying Gary, she helped create the design of their very contemporary home.

Her husband says she worked magic with a sewing machine, making dolls and decorative ducks that she sold, and was an amazing cook.

“I was the benefactor of that,” he said. “She’d make one new dish every week that I’d never had before.”

Judy took pride in hosting family dinners at Christmas, 45 years in a row. She played tennis as often as she could, and was a skilled golfer.

Her faith was so important that she and Gary became some of the founding members of Amazing Grace Lutheran Church in Inver Grove Heights.

“She did all these different things. Days just weren’t long enough for her,” Gary said. “But then things started slowing up, with the old Alzheimer’s.”

Four years ago, Alzheimer’s Disease started stealing Judy’s talents.

“For instance, she used to sew ten hours a day. All of the sudden, it’s one hour a day. Then, all of the sudden, it stopped,” Gary said. “She kind of kept cooking for a while, then all of the sudden it was hard to remember recipes. Pretty soon that kind of disappeared.”

Her decline into the degenerative brain disease was hard to watch.

“The golfing, the tennis, the bike riding — one after another, they just kind of disappeared, one at a time.” Gary said. “She got to the point where she really, kind of, stopped talking.”

Judy knew it was likely she would develop Alzheimer’s. Her mother died from it, and her older brother is living with it right now.

“She always had a smile. She was never down, always happy. She was not going to let it beat her.” Gary said.

Judy Sommerland was 74 years old when she died on April 8. Last fall, she was able to join her family as they participated in the Annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s.

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