Leland Richard Somers of Top of the World
Mr. Somers was active in Holy Spirit Ecumenical Catholic Church, Largo, Florida, as a progressive associate priest, biblical scholar and facilitator of many book study groups. He was also a voice for the LGBTQ community
By: M.R. WILSON, TB Reporter Writer
CLEARWATER – Leland Richard Somers, 81, of Top of the World, Clearwater, Florida, passed away January 6, 2021, at Hospice Care Center of Pinellas Park.
Mr. Somers was born in Holland, Michigan, to the late Ernest and Beatrice Somers on December 19, 1939. He wrote, “I always felt blessed to have been raised in the country and spent time in the forests, dunes and streams of Michigan – the more so when I see what desolate and horrible conditions so many children live in right here in the USA today.”
He graduated from Holland High School, and attended Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan, and Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Maryland. In a departure from the priesthood, he worked as an officer for the Holland Police Department and later was employed by Blue Cross and Blue Shield Insurance. Returning to religious life, he attended the Graduate Theological School at University of California-Berkeley. He was formerly an ordained priest/bishop in the Old Catholic Tradition (Independent Catholic Churches International).
Beyond his childhood in Michigan, Mr. Somers spent his happiest years in Vallejo, California, during the 1980s. He moved to Clearwater, Florida, near the turn of the 21st Century and became active in Holy Spirit Ecumenical Catholic Church, Largo, as a progressive associate priest, Biblical scholar and facilitator of many book study groups.
He was an avid reader and a brilliant writer, and a voice for the LGBTQ community. He had a wide variety of interests, including the major world religions, history, music, politics and science, which led him at last into secular life. He recently wrote: “I’m sort of at the point where it all [philosophy/religion] comes from the same place in our minds and hearts. If it does good and causes us to do good, then I’m all for it. If not, then get rid of it.”
His compassion and kindness, his wit and wisdom are sorely missed. One of his stepsons remembers Mr. Somers fondly as “a great father figure, warm hearted, trustworthy, a thinker, a teacher, a friend and… He was a ‘Great Act of Kindness.’”
Among his countless gifts were life lessons in kindness and respect for others, animal care, a love for reading and all styles of music, even how to sink a well and install an electric fence.
Mr. Somers is survived by a brother, Lance Somers, 74, of Pinellas Park, Florida, two stepsons, and several nieces and nephews.
No memorial events are planned at this time. To offer sympathy, go to legacy.com.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF M.R. WILSON.
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