Deceased June 4, 2013
Reynolds Somers was born Oct. 9, 1927, and christened with a family name which was always shortened to “Renny” or just Reyn. He and I were both born in Paterson, N.J., but I was born two years later, and because of that big age difference, we didn’t always play together during our grammar school years. However, as the years went by, we became closer, especially when both of our families each moved to Wyckoff—only 7 miles away from Paterson—in the late ‘30s. Being two years older, he was my hero, especially when he joined the army at the end of WWII. After entering Amherst he told me great things about the college and convinced me to apply—a decision I never regretted.
After he was called back for the Korean conflict and went on to receive the Korean ribbon with four bronze stars, he became even a bigger hero to me. When it was time for fraternity rushing, I followed him into the brotherhood of Delta Upsilon where we both found warm friendships. At Amherst my hero worship grew when Reyn played football, baseball, track and wrestling. During our Amherst years, we frequented “The Barn” in Wyckoff over holidays for many beers (though I was under age). After graduation in 1949, Reyn went on to a successful sales career while I then did my military duty by enlisting in the navy. Abigail and I were married Jan. 1, 1952, and Reyn was my best man. Five months later, Reyn married Arden Weyde, but it was my turn to be in Korea and I could not attend their wedding.
Over the following years we kept in touch because they were living in Saddle River and my parents were still in Wyckoff, and we always made a point of trying to see each other when I visited my parents. In the late ‘50s, Arden and Reyn frequently vacationed on Cape Cod (where Abigail’s parents owned a house,) and we enjoyed picnics on the beach with our first-born kids. Carrie was born exactly one year before our Chip, and we have pictures of the kids playing on the beach. They subsequently realized that Cape Cod was a long hike and bought a house in Harvey Cedars, N.J. During the ‘70s, Reyn and Arden were frequenters of the Amherst-Williams rivalry at both colleges. Renny had a sister, Barbara, who married Tom Dorsey (yup—the son of THE Tommy Dorsey). Tom had gone to Williams, so the two of them decided they should have a trophy—but for the loser of the game. Every November, whether in Amherst or Williamstown, they planned to meet. I saw them once at Pratt field with their own private table for four with the best champagne glasses (and champagne) and a lovely gourmet lunch.
After Reyn retired, they bought a lovely house in Easton, Md., and then sold the house on the Jersey shore. Their house backed up to a small cove off of the Tred Avon where Reyn could keep his small powerboat. Their house was conveniently located about a days drive from Cape Cod, so for the past 20 years, Easton was a destination point between our Cape home and our Vero Beach home. We would always try and stop either on the way south or for our final overnight driving north. The visits were short but packed with catch up news and interesting conversations. Of course, there was always a time in which they were correcting each other on some subject, and we would both laugh and recall The Bickersons—that famous TV series with Don Ameche and Frances Langford. Because of the tight time frame, Arden would always begin by stating that we all had five minutes to talk about our medical issues—and then no more medical talk. After a couple of martinis, they would graciously take us to dinner at their Talbot Club, and we would be off by 8:30 in the morning.
We missed our stop on the way home this year after a conversation with Reyn cautioned us that Arden wasn’t feeling well. After we got back to the Cape on May 13, we got a call from Reyn himself the following week that Arden had died on May 19. After all the years we had heard of Reyn’s medical problems, we couldn’t believe that it was Arden who passed on. Then, less than three weeks later, we got word that Reyn had gone too. The reason was a massive heart attack, but both Abigail and I suspect that Reyn continued on himself to take care of Arden, and when that reason was gone, he finally just let down.
Chuck Winans ’50