May 9, 2022
Galen William Sommer was born on April 20, 1945, to Adolph & Florence (Engel) Sommer on their farm in Bandon Township Renville County Minnesota six miles north of Fairfax, Minnesota. A family doctor along with a neighboring midwife assisted in his birth. Adolph and Florence preceded Galen in reaching their heavenly home. He is survived by his sister Karen Wager and her husband Howard Wager of Redwood Falls, Minnesota. His nephew Chad Wager of Redwood Falls. His niece Lisa Sanders, her husband Tim and their daughters Grace and Gloria of Duluth, Minnesota. Plus, Galen’s buddy John Cagle who kept showing up at his apartment after moving out of the group home where Galen worked at the time. He has mentored John for 40 years and a wonderful friendship has developed over the years. He’s also survived by numerous cousins. Galen joined his parents in their heavenly home on May 1, 2022, after having been diagnosed with mesothelioma epithelioid type cancer on Feb. 8, 2021.
Galen was brought into the Christian faith at his baptism at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Fairfax, Minnesota. From kindergarten through fourth grade, Galen attended Fairfax Public School. Fifth through eighth grade, Galen attended St. John’s Lutheran Grade School in Fairfax. In 1963 he graduated from Dr. Martin Luther High School in New Ulm, Minnesota. In 1967 Galen graduated with a Bachelor of Liberal Arts from Northwestern College in Watertown, Wisconsin. In 1971 he graduated with a Master of Divinity from Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in Mequon, Wisconsin, a suburb of Milwaukee.
Galen was a Lutheran minister for eight years, serving from 1971-1975 at Trinity Lutheran in Wilson Township outside of Winona, Minnesota, and from 1975-1979 at Immanuel Lutheran St. Joseph, Missouri, and Peace Lutheran Shenandoah, Iowa. The highlight of his years at Trinity was taking two busloads of 100 teenagers to Ottawa, Canada, for the church body’s First International Youth Rally. He was also the chairman of the steering committee for the Second International Youth Rally in Winona in 1975. He especially enjoyed his time serving Peace Lutheran, a mission-minded congregation that continues today, whereas Immanuel closed about five years after he left due to conflicts in its mission. He resigned from the ministry in 1979, moving back to Fairfax until 1980 when he moved to Minneapolis. There he worked for 30 years in group homes for people with developmental disabilities, retiring in 2010. Then he began a new career as a desk attendant supervisor at a 27-story condominium on the edge of downtown Minneapolis, where he worked until he was no longer able to do so.
Galen’s interests included genealogy, gardening, bike riding, working out at various health clubs and traveling. After spending numerous vacations in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, Galen trained to become an English as a Second Language tutor primary to Hispanics in south Minneapolis. While working in group homes, Galen served on various advisory boards for other human service agencies. He was president of the Minnesota Employees of Social Service Agencies. He also served on the board of the German Genealogy Society of Minnesota. He wrote his own Sommer family history, tracing his ancestors back to 1685. He was a member of the Soo Line Community Garden in south Minneapolis for 27 years. He was involved as a block club leader for many years. He was also the president of his condominium board for more than 20 years. In later years he was on the council of Pilgrim Lutheran Church in south Minneapolis. He also served as a tutor to first- and second-graders who were behind in reading at the public grade school across the street from where he lived.
Galen donated his body to the University of Minnesota Anatomy Bequest Program Medical School. His cremated remains will be returned to the family.
Memorials may be directed to Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary Scholarships, Open Arms (provides meals for terminally ill clients) and Soo Line Community Garden.
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