Lemley Chapel
Serving Sedro-Woolley &
All of Skagit County Since 1935
1008 Third Street
Sedro-Woolley, WA
Jerry Sommerseth Memorial
Jerry Sommerseth Memorial

Jerry Sommerseth

Jerry Sommerseth

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2019

Local musician, teacher, activist, and humanitarian, Jerry Sommerseth, passed away April 23, 2019 after a long illness. He was 83 years of age.

He taught in the Sedro-Woolley School District for many years, as well as teaching private music in the county.  Additionally, Jerry’s deep commitment to social justice and environmental causes endeared him to many.   He was widely known for inspiring others to stand with him in a weekly protest in front of the Skagit County Courthouse to bring attention to his many selected causes.

For more than 30 years he organized and presented concerts in honor of Beethoven’s December 16th birthday, on the closest Sunday to that date.  Jerry was able to attract local as well as regional musicians who appreciated his love of classical music.  Attendees scheduled their Christmas activities around the concert and the venue was most often filled to overflowing.

Jerry served for many years as the music director for the Central United Methodist Church in Sedro Woolley, and the Bay View United Methodist Church.  He faithfully provided his musical blessing to many people in that capacity.

He was also involved with PFLAG of Skagit County, serving the needs of local LBGTQ persons here.  He worked with groups seeking to provide better conditions for farmworkers and migrants, always seeking to fill a need where he could.

Jerry is survived by his brother, Bob Sommerseth of Marysville and sister-in-law Sharon of Everett; nephews, Brent Sommerseth of Seattle, and Vaughn Sommerseth of Lake Stevens, and niece, Rochelle Sommerseth of Lynnwood.

Jerry’s long-time friend and former student Dale Huggins and his wife Gail supervised his care during the past few years.  Dale advises, “One thing I know, Jerry would never have wanted us to waste time grieving for him.  Laughing, singing, remembering good times, and continuing his good work are what Jerry would have wished from us.  Remember how he taught us and always gave of himself to help others; gave far more than expected!  We could not have had a better example.”

A Life Celebration Service for Jerry will be held on Saturday, June 22, 2019 (his birthday) at 1:00 PM at the Central United Methodist Church, 1031 Polte Road, Sedro-Woolley. Please bring stories to share.


  • Elizabeth Martindale

    I was a freshman playing cello in the orchestra at Sedro Woolley High School when Jerry was hired to be our orchestra director. He wasn’t much older than the rest of us. We had an excellent orchestra at SWHS for the many years he worked there.
    He also became a dear family friend to the Carlos Shafer family over the many years we were all in Sedro Woolley.
    He was an outstanding orchestra instructor with lots of enthusiasm and energy.
    I remember when he was the music director at the Sedro Woolley Methodist Church.

  • Karen McCormack

    I grew up in Big Lake and Jerry was a big part of our schooling. He was a great man and mentor and knew so much about music. Rest in peace Jerry. So sad to see you are gone.

  • Jan Knudson Batt

    One always remembers a special piano teacher. I studied with Jerry for 6 years in Jr. High and High School in the sixties. He exposed me to many of the classical composers and inspired me to continue studying at UW. JERRY was a very talented man with a great sense of humor. He was a pillar at Sedro Woolley United Methodist Church. Thank you Jerry.

  • Danny Blomquist

    He was a great man. Every time I pass the court house, I will think of him.

  • Susan Redd

    28 April 2019.
    For the family and friends of Jerry,
    I extend my heartfelt sympathy for the loss of a musician, a leader in human rights, and a real contributor to our community.
    His presence in front of the County Courthouse was an inspiration to those of us who knew him and his causes. Rain or shine, we’d see Jerry holding his sign, waving to those passing by, devoted to keeping peace as a focus for our leaders.
    Cordially, Susan Redd

  • John Doan

    From Jerry Sommerseth’s 5th grade music class:

    This Land Is Your Land
    Words and Music by Woody Guthrie

    This land is your land This land is my land
    From California to the New York island;
    From the red wood forest to the Gulf Stream waters
    This land was made for you and Me.

    As I was walking that ribbon of highway,
    I saw above me that endless skyway:
    I saw below me that golden valley:
    This land was made for you and me.

    I’ve roamed and rambled and I followed my footsteps
    To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts;
    And all around me a voice was sounding:
    This land was made for you and me.

    When the sun came shining, and I was strolling,
    And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling,
    As the fog was lifting a voice was chanting:
    This land was made for you and me.

    As I went walking I saw a sign there
    And on the sign it said “No Trespassing.”
    But on the other side it didn’t say nothing,
    That side was made for you and me.

    In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people,
    By the relief office I seen my people;
    As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking
    Is this land made for you and me?

    Nobody living can ever stop me,
    As I go walking that freedom highway;
    Nobody living can ever make me turn back
    This land was made for you and me.