Rein & Ella Sommerfeld (2014)
Rein & Ella Sommerfeld (2014)
Rein and Ella Sommerfeld made a tremendous impact on the Luther community – their labours of love helped Luther evolve into the vital institution it is today. They shared a deep love for family and constantly lived out their values of personal integrity, deep faith and passionate work ethic.
Rein and Ella had three children: Eric (HS’70, U’79) and Ralph (HS’73, U’78) who both attended the High School and University campuses, and Ruth (Sommerfeld) Dempsey (HS’74) who attended the High School campus.
An accounting course had brought Rein to Regina in the fall of 1947. He joined Luther College in 1950, the day after New Year’s. Rein's financial acumen and dedication led him through a rewarding 38-year career. Luther life became interwoven with family life, as the Sommerfelds frequently invited Luther staff and faculty into their home for fellowship and hearty food. Everyone felt at home with the Sommerfelds, who welcomed each guest with warmth and genuine hospitality.
The melding of their family and community lives increased when Ella started working at Luther in 1964, at first on a part-time basis, and later as a full-time assistant. Ella had trained in secretarial work and she agreed to help out in the “front office.” While providing occasional secretarial support to President Morris Anderson, her main contribution was in building alumni relations. She was a tremendous help to Don King, Luther’s first Development Director, by researching alumni.
Ella’s memory was fantastic – she easily recognized names of Luther alumni mentioned in newspaper articles. Her warm-hearted rapport with people, efficient competence and persistent efforts at establishing connections helped Luther forge good relationships with students and alumni alike. Her work helped lay a firm foundation for successful fundraising for the College. She even got the children involved – son Eric remembers all the Sommerfeld kids being recruited to help stuff envelopes on more than one occasion! He also remembers his mother being the one who brought together the alumni list in 1968 to ensure that the chief fundraiser of the time (Don Duff) had something to work with as fundraising for the building of the University campus began.
As for Rein, he was a remarkably good steward. His ability to make the best use of scarce resources meant that he was extremely helpful to the President, the school administration and the Board of Regents. As the College’s Treasurer and later as Business Manager at the University campus, he governed financial resources with great care. Having a no-nonsense attitude and down-to-earth outlook served him and Luther very well.
Rein had a great love of history and he acted as Luther’s unofficial archivist. His instinct was to preserve things so they wouldn’t get lost. He kept all kinds of memorabilia.
Ella and Rein’s love for Luther did not end with their retirement. They continued to support Luther with regular donations and no doubt with their prayers, even after moving to British Columbia in 1994. Ella passed away in 1996 and Rein passed away in 2013.