Donald Eugene Somsen, age 84 of Baldwin, passed away September 11, 2012 at the Baldwin Care Center. Donald was born in the River Falls Hospital on July 1, 1928; the son of Albert and Minnie (Kappers) Somsen. He will join his sisters, Murial and Evelyn and brother, LeRoy. He attended the Baldwin Grade School. At the age of 12 when he could handle a hammer, he began working at his Dad’s egg production business. He made 30 dozen egg cases which required 51 nails to complete and his salary was three cents a case. At the end of a week he had enough money for a movie ticket and popcorn at the local theater. He worked for his Dad all through high school and then he was helping with the candling of the eggs and receiving the eggs from the farmers.
During his high school years, he participated in football, basketball and track and as a member of the band. It was during the last two years of high school that he started dating Irene Johnson, a country farm girl. They both graduated from Baldwin High School in the class of 1946. Donald went on to attend the Minnesota School of Business in Minneapolis. After he graduated, he was hired at the Nash Garage in Baldwin as their bookkeeper. Don and Irene were married at the Woodside Lutheran Church on November 27, 1948. To this union they were blessed with four children: Kathryn Jo, Jerry Donald, David Lee and Joan Marie. In 1950, Don’s uncle Bernard J. Somsen was building 2 houses on Newton street and encouraged them to buy the one of their choice, as they were living in a small trailer house behind Don’s parents home. Kathryn was a very tiny baby at the time, and over a span of 14 years, the next 3 would be born. The home on Newton Street is still their home.
Donald was hired at St. Croix Electric as a bookkeeper in 1955 and 10 years later became the manager. He retired from St. Croix Electric after 35 years in 1990. He was always sports minded and refereed basketball and hockey games for 25 years, was a Boy Scout Leader for several years, served on the Volunteer Fire Department for 25 years, Village Clerk for 10 years and 4 years as Village President. He was a Sunday School teacher at Gethsemane Lutheran, served on many boards and was President of the Council for a few years. His interest in the Baldwin Hospital lead him to be on the Board in 1970 and became President of the now Baldwin Area Medical Center, retiring from that position in 2005. They enjoyed being with family at Sunnyside Resort and Marina at Balsam Lake and spending as many weekends as possible at their trailer.
Don and Irene enjoyed traveling throughout the United States and joined some tour groups to Europe. The highlight of all Don’s travels was to attend the World-Wide Somsen Reunion in the Netherlands in 1997 where he met many relatives. They visited the farm where his Somsen ancestors lived. His grandparents immigrated to America in 1881 and settled on a farm in the town of Baldwin. Five years after that reunion, another reunion was held in Baldwin and several from the Netherlands attended, renewing friendships.
His many hobbies included reading, cross word puzzles, refinishing furniture, fishing (especially his yearly trips to Canada), ice skating, golfing (winning four 1st and 2nd place trophies in the Senior Golf League at the Hammond Golf Course), water skiing (last time when he was 73), attending all sports games, especially when the grandchildren were involved. He always said that was the best part of his retirement! Don was a great “fixer-upper” and was available for repair work for others.
He is preceded in death by his parents; sisters and brothers-in-law, Muriel and Nolan Penning, Evelyn and Doyle (Tim) Tousley; brother and sister-in-law, LeRoy and Arlene (Zillmer) Somsen; daugher-in-law, Carol (Timmerman) Somsen; and niece, Connie Somsen. He is survived by his wife, Irene; 4 children and their spouses, Kathryn and Gary Reed, Jerry Somsen, David and Carol (Hailey) Somsen and Joan and Billy Moore; 12 grandchildren and spouses: Jeffrey and Nichole Reed, Jason Reed, Jennifer and Thomas Williams, Sarah and Kevin Pugh, Joseph Somsen, Patrick and Heidi Somsen, Suzanne Somsen, Gina Somsen, Jonathan and Jessica Somsen, Mick Torres, Tyler Torres and Jenna Torres; 7 great-grandchildren: Sophia and Madison Reed, Phillip and Catherine Williams and Wyatt, Nolan and Eli Pugh; many nieces, nephews and friends.
Visitation will be held from 4:00 – 8:00 PM Friday, September 14, 2012 at O’Connell Family Funeral Home, 1010 Newton St., Baldwin and 1 hour prior to service Saturday at the church. Funeral services will be held 11:00 AM Saturday, September 15, 2012 at Gethsemane Lutheran Church, 1350 Florence St., Baldwin, with Pastor Carrie Anderson officiating. Interment will take place at Woodside Cemetery, with Donald’s grandsons serving as casket bearers. Memorials are preferred to Baldwin Care Center or Gethsemane Lutheran Church. Funeral Services have been entrusted to O’Connell Family Funeral Home of Baldwin (715) 684-3434. www.oconnellfuneralhomes.com