Clement V. Sommers, 91, of Ocean Township, passed away on April 15th. A longtime resident of Oceanport, he graduated from Wolf Hill School as the 8th Grade President and was the first Eagle Scout from Oceanport BSA Troop #58. His service in the United States Navy was cut short due to serious injuries which required him to be in a full body cast for almost a year. Predicted to never walk again, he persevered and gave up his crutches.
Clem served as instructor and treasurer of the Oceanport First Aid Squad and was recognized in 1973 as First Aider of the Year. He joined the Oceanport Hook & Ladder Co. where he served as 2nd Lieutenant, Captain, and President and was a 50-year Life Member and Exempt. Clem then served as 1st Assistant and Chief of the Oceanport Fire Department. For over 50 years he served as Treasurer of the Oceanport Fireman’s Relief Association and received the Port-au-Peck Chemical Hose Company Honorary Membership in 2011.
Clem spent almost a quarter of a century as an Oceanport Councilman (served as president), Mayor and Monmouth County Freeholder. His Community Development Program in Oceanport was recognized as the leader in the state. He was responsible for relocating the business section and replacing it with Old Wharf Park, developing Blackberry Bay, Charles, Trinity and Evergreen Parks, as well as constructing the Senior Citizens Building, the Port-au-Peck Chemical Hose Co. Fire House, the old Borough Hall (including the memorial monuments honoring Oceanporters killed in action) and acquiring the land for the First Aid Building. The sewer system and many of the town’s traffic lights can be attributed to him. In 2015 the Oceanport Lions Club (of which he was a member for a number of years) honored him as an “Oceanport Legend” for this service
As a Freeholder he served as Deputy Director and chaired the Building & Grounds, Education, Planning Boards and several other committees. He oversaw the building of the Police Academy, the Vocational District School’s Career Center, the Library Headquarters in Manalapan, and major additions to the John L. Montgomery Nursing Home, the Juvenile Detention Center, the County Court House, and county jail. He accepted the Marine Academy of Science & Technology (MAST) challenge from the State of New Jersey. The Monmouth County Republican Organization honored him as the first “Monmouth County Legend” with a “Hall of Fame” Award in 2015 for this service.
For the past quarter of a century he has been a member and president of the Monmouth County Vocational School District. He is responsible for building the High Tech High School on Brookdale’s Campus, the Academy of Health Sciences at the Jersey Shore Medial Center, the Communications High School in Freehold Township, the Culinary Arts School in Asbury Park, and the expansion of the facilities at MAST. He upgraded and expanded conventional vocational and adult programs and initiated the academy of Law and Public Safety. These academies are recognized as the very best schools in the state and nation. He was given the Eastern Monmouth Area Chamber of Commerce Spinnaker Award as the 2005 Appointed Official of the Year. The students at MAST inducted Clem as an Honorary Member of the school’s Chapter of the National Honor Society in 2010.
As a business owner he was president of Seco Eastern, Inc., a commercial-industrial coatings contracting company. He was president and founder of the New Jersey Council of the Painting and Decorating Contractors Association. He served as President of the Garden State Council, Inc. for many years and continued as Executive Director of the Association upon retirement. He was the Management Trustee Co-chairman of the statewide Health & Welfare, Vocation and Training Funds for the Union Painters, Tapers and Glazers and served as co-chairman of the Joint Trade Board for those trades until recently.
Clem is survived by his wife, Lois, of 60 years, his daughter and son-in-law, Linda and Ed Opaleski, grandchildren, Nathan, Kristine, and Jessica, son-in-law, Brian, and great-grandson, Apollo. The son of Paul and Mary Sommers, he is preceded in death by his brothers Richard and Paul, Jr. and survived by his brother, Wayne. Clem had a great love for Michigan Football attending many games at the “Big House” in Ann Arbor, MI but lastly attending the 2018 game in Rutgers Stadium. He would start many conversations asking if “you had your Christmas shopping done yet” and leave every encounter with “Keep Smiling”.
Clem will be privately buried at Woodbine Cemetery in Oceanport and a Memorial Service honoring his life and legacy will be held at a later date. In the meantime, donations may be made in his memory to the Oceanport Hook and Ladder Company (www.ophl.org).
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