Jean Templeton Somers
April 2, 1923 - September 6, 2018
Jean Templeton Somers passed away at midnight on September 6, 2018. She was 95. An elegant, politically savvy, spunky woman who cut a swath wherever she walked, Jean embodied the best of her time. She was wife, mother, sister and homemaker to the hilt; moreover, she possessed a mind of her own. Jean—our mom—was a person you wanted on your side.
Born into fame in Palo Alto, CA, Jean was the first child of Catherine and Robert “Dink” Templeton, an Olympic gold medalist (1920) and revered Stanford Track Coach and sports columnist. She remained a proud Palo Alto High School alumna all of her life.
Jean met her husbandto-be, Kansan Bob Somers, over a bridge game. She wore an engagement ring that night, (not from Bob), as the story goes. By their second bridge date, the ring was gone, and a month later she married Bob and became the wife of this handsome Pan American World Airlines pilot, whose career began flying Clipper Ships out of SF Bay and ended as Captain of the first 747s. Although she had an ironic fear of flying, the couple traveled the world together. These were her favorite years. When Bob flew his last Flight 1 trip around the world, she joined him. They were greeted with gifts in every city they touched down upon. When the journey ended, Jean wrote the story, titled “The Last Trip,” published in Pilot, the PAA Airlines magazine. The article won the Bronze Award from the International Association of Business Communicators. Jean was a writer. An ardent letter writer. And when certain injustices provoked her, she—true to form—wrote letters to the editor.
Jean had four children in three years: a girl, a boy, then twins. The couple became one of the first families of Ladera when it was a brand new subdivision in the hinterlands of Menlo Park. Here, they raised their kids. Bob was among the founders of Ladera Oaks Swim and Tennis Club. When he was gone on long trips to far reaches of the globe, the house remained wide open to neighborhood kids, who played in the yard and sat around her kitchen table. She was a “second mother” to many, including next door neighbor for twenty years Azi Owfee.
In the mid-1950s, the couple bought a cabin on Pinecrest Lake. Jean loved trout fishing in the tin motorboat with Bob. She relished sitting on that deck overlooking the lake, drinking her first cup of black coffee, lunching on a sandwich and iced Coke, and in the evening watching the sunset while solving the world’s problems with a cocktail in hand and a friend or two at her side (Jackie Lawson, Mona Kelley, Mary Daly, Fran Hillier, Penny Lawrence). She loved people, she loved politics, the SF 49ers; she devoured the SF Chronicle and was an avid fan of Herb Caen. She was a passionate Big Band aficionado. And then there was Frank Sinatra.
In the 70s, the couple moved to Rio Del Mar, in the house they built and lived in until they died. They bought a vacation condo in Maui, perhaps her favorite place, another deck with a world class view, this one of Molokai and Lanai, between which the sun set every evening.
And now her life has set. Jean Somers had spunk and humor to the end. She loved us to the end. Her caregiver Amalia “Molly” Pesquiera became her devoted friend, along with Maria Rosales— and an assortment of children and animals. Both women were at her side when she passed, and we’re grateful.
Bob Somers preceded Jean in death by three and one half years. She leaves four children: Robin Somers (Dennis Schirmer), Robert Michael Somers (Emily), Marti Somers (Artem Kulikov), and Richard Somers (Carla); three grandchildren: Jennifer Templeton Dunn (Ian), Joe Schirmer (Miranda), and Olivia Erwin; five great-grandchildren: Alex and Colin Dunn, and Charlie, Calvin and Pearl Schirmer. She experienced the gift of two foster greatgrandchildren: Orlando and baby Jesse. She also leaves her best friend Diane McDonald, second cousin Ann Proctor, and her devoted sister Robin “Binnie” Quist Gates of Woodside and Binnie’s extended family.
Jean will be interred, with Bob’s ashes, at Madronia Cemetery in Saratoga.