Obituary: Dr Michael Sommerlad

  • Date

    Tue 15 Nov 22

Dr Michael Sommerlad

Dr Michael Sommerlad, who has died at the age of 90, was instrumental in the development of our Albert Sloman Library.

Michael first came to Essex from the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford. He oversaw the rapid growth of the Library’s holdings and was passionate about making connections with prominent people in the County, as well as the University community. These relationships led directly to many significant donations, in particular to our Special Collections.

Michael was also central in raising the funds needed to purchase the English Poetry Database, which was one of the first online resources acquired by the Library.

As well as making important connections locally, Michael was prominent in establishing and maintaining links between the University of Essex and higher education institutions in Japan, particularly Dokkyo University. For many years, he was also the University’s Public Orator and was responsible for preparing and delivering all of the speeches given at graduation ceremonies in praise of our Honorary Graduates.

Away from University and library work, Michael was a keen sportsman; maintaining a particular interest in running and cycling. He completed his first marathon at the age of 69, and competed for both Great Bentley Running Club and Colchester Rovers Cycling Club at many events. Michael also represented his country, and in 2014 he competed for Great Britain at the ITU Duathlon World Championships in Spain. Michael came home with the Gold medal in the over 80s category, having picked up a silver at the same event in France in 2012.

Michael owned a house in France where, after retirement, he spent much of the year with his wife, Stella. He had a keen interest in French language and culture, which extended to its food and wine; something which Michael was able to indulge for many years in his stewardship of The Survivors, a dining club initially founded by senior members of staff who had worked through the University’s first decade of existence.

Our thoughts are with his family and friends.

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