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Scranton Man Remembered in His Own Words

SCRANTON -- An obituary for a man from Scranton is getting a lot of attention, not necessarily because of what is in it, but because it's written in his words.

Richard Somers, 87, from Scranton, made a lot of new friends two days after his passing because of the way his obituary was written. It started an unusual way with a greeting from the deceased.

"Good morning. So this is what the obituary page looks like, huh? I always wondered what it would look like with me on it."

Richard Somers' voice jumped from the page and into the hearts of thousands of people who have read his unusual obituary.

"I was a little hesitant at first," said Richard's daughter Christine Somers. "I was like, this is not traditional, but I think it really captures his spirit."

Somers' son Rick Jr.  was the actual author. Christine got on board because the narrative of her dad's life sounded like it came from him.

We met with the family as they were preparing for Richard's funeral services. There were a lot more smiles than you'd expect, but anyone who read his obit knows Richard was a funny guy.

He wrote about finishing high school after World War II on the G.I. Bill.

"Earning $75, great beer money in those days," his son wrote from memory.

"I think the best part is, we accomplished our goal," said Rick Jr. "We wanted to portray our father the way he worked with us and lived with us. People are so touched and feel like they know him."

Thousands of Richard's new friends have reached out, and not just in Scranton. The family's received messages from places like Kentucky and Florida.

"He would probably be laughing and say, 'Ha ha, I told you so! I'm so important'.  I think in his own mind, he thought he was important," Christine laughed.

The unusual obit was not Richard's plan, but his children know he would be on board with it all.

"He was constantly, day after day, looking for people that he could make a difference in their lives and the opportunity was happiness for him," Rick said.

And this is his final way of making someone's day a little brighter.

"I think it restores faith in humanity again," Christine added. "It gives people hope that you can live a good life, help other people, treat people well, love your family, be respectful of people and still have a good life, and die a happy death, really."

The obit ends with a final wish to the reader, "I wish you all well in life, I hope you experience the joy and love I have come to know."

The Somers family members say they never planned on the obituary going viral. They had just hoped for a few smiles when people picked up the paper in the morning. They think their dad definitely would have liked all the attention.

Below is Richard's full obituary:

"Good Morning. So this is what the obituary page looks like, huh? I always wondered what it would look like with me on it. My name is Richard Somers, and I finally left this Earth on Monday evening after 87 incredible years.

I lived a wonderful life, born and raised in this great town called the "Electric City." I came along a few months before the Great Depression hit, the youngest of five children born to Alice May and Charles J. Somers. I was blessed with two brothers, Robert and Charles; and two sisters, Mary Alice (Somers) Weber and Ann (Somers) Foley. All my brothers and sisters had beautiful children, who all thought very highly of me.

Dad started on the trolleys, and then became a bus driver. He died in 1958. Mom was a spitfire old Irish Catholic who ruled with a wooden spoon. She passed in 1989 at the age of 92. Boy, did I give my parents trouble. Wasn't doing well in school, so I decided to join the Army at age 17, but only with my parents' permission. During WWII, I served in the cleanup crew in Germany. I promised mom that I would go back to high school after the war and I kept my promise, attending Scranton Tech while on the GI bill, getting paid $75 to go to high school - great beer money in those days.

I met my wife, Anna Louise Latini from Cabrini Avenue in West Side. She was Italian. I was Irish. This was a daring thing to do in my life. Ann was my everything. We fought cancer for over 25 years together. Through sheer force of will, Ann was able to see Ricky get married, Chris graduate and Hali born as our first grandchild. I ended up working 30 years in the post office here in Scranton. Hired originally in Dover, N.J., I was able to transfer back to Scranton with some, uh, political help. (Politics in Scranton?)

A few years later, our son, Ricky, was born, followed by his sister, Christine, two years later. I had the perfect family. I was proud of the work I did representing union members as president of the Postal Workers Union, while also serving as treasurer of the Post Office Credit Union for over 25 years. When I retired in 1990, I asked Ann if it was OK. She was fine with it as long as I was out of the house by 9 a.m. every day.

During retirement, I enjoyed volunteering at the Geisinger Community Medical Center gift shop, where I was honored to receive the Dora Cassebaum Memorial Adult Volunteer Service Award for contributing the greatest number of service hours, some 20,000. Additionally, I enjoyed volunteering for the Celtic Hospice and the American Cancer Society. Ann died in 1997 after her battle with cancer. She was my rock and she was an incredible mother to my kids. I have missed her terribly, and I can't wait to see her. I now have four incredible grandchildren that I am going to miss, but will be watching over them - Hali and Noah Somers of Scranton; and McAuley Kate and Aidan Somers, who live in Dallas. The times we shared were priceless. They would call me "poppy" and I loved that name. I hope you know what you meant to me.

Lastly, I need to thank quite of few people in my life. Thank you to my nieces and nephews who loved me and took great care of me to the end. I realize this weekend will be the party to end all parties. To Dr. William Dempsey, who kept me together, for the most part, over the last few years. You are a tribute to your profession, a true "Gentleman Doctor." To Fran, Carlon, Arthur, Jimmy and Greg McGrath (deceased) and others. When I lost my wife, you filled a wide gap in my life that made me whole. To the Millett Family and the Pines Senior Living staff, I may have been a pain in the rear, but thank you for allowing me to live in such a great facility for the past year and a half. I am so grateful for each and every one of you. To the residents, you are beautiful people. I was honored to have had the opportunity to call you friends. I will miss our meals and our happy-hours together. My position of Resident Council has now changed to President Emeritus. In addition, I would like to thank the staff at the Hospice of the Sacred Heart, Dunmore, for allowing me to enjoy my final days with my family and friends, though loudly. Your kindness, compassion and comfort allowed me to leave in peace. And finally, to my kids and Kelly, I have never been so proud to be called "Dad." From the dinners, to the holidays, to family vacations and family time, I leave this earth full of love and cherished moments. Be assured that I will always be with you. I am sure Mom will be at the gates waiting for me. I love you all from the bottom of my heart.

My funeral will be from the Frank M. Regan Funeral Home at 715 Linden St., Scranton. My viewing will be there from 3 to 7 p.m. on Friday. My funeral will be held on Saturday at 9:30 in Immaculate Conception Church, 801 Taylor Ave., Scranton. I will be buried beside my wife in Cathedral Cemetery. Please go to church directly in the morning so I can spend time with my kids, and don't be late.

Memorial contributions may be made in my name (please spell Somers correctly) to the Women's Resource Center of NEPA, 620 Madison Ave., Scranton, PA 18510, or the Scranton School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children, 537 Venard Road, South Abington Twp., PA 18411.

I wanted to thank you for taking time out of your day to read this obituary and share my life experience. I wish you all well in your life, and I hope you experience the joy and love I have come to know. God bless each and every one of you."

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