A few days ago my mom called to tell me the news of my old friend David Somers passing away. She’d been reading the local paper and came across an article in the Brampton Guardian reflecting on his many contributions to the arts and culture in Brampton, Ontario. It mentioned his recent passing at the end of April. I hadn’t been in touch with David in a few years but I had been made aware through a mutual friend that he’d been diagnosed with cancer more than a year ago.
My mom has been diagnosed with cancer twice in the last twelve years. She went through surgery and extensive treatments and has been in remission for a few years now. Boris’ father was diagnosed with cancer last year and has also gone on to a complete recovery with relatively little effect on his overall health. Sometimes people aren’t so lucky, or maybe we (their loved ones) are the lucky ones not to have lost them. My heart goes out to those David has left behind.
I first met David almost fifteen years ago on my first visit to the Peel Heritage Complex, a public art gallery, museum and archive in Brampton. I was interested in becoming a volunteer and David is the one who interviewed me about my interests. My volunteering eventually led to paid work at the complex in various ways, much of it working closely with David and assistant curator, Judy Daley. I can’t really imagine one without the other because they are both so much a part of my memories there, and they made a great team. They were a pleasure to work with and provided me with great opportunities despite my complete lack of experience working in that type of environment. It was an invaluable experience because I learned what goes on behind the scenes of a museum/art gallery, gave me hands-on experience of putting a show together, and was the first push I needed to start showing my own work in a gallery.
David was more than just my boss at the Complex, he was also a friend. I think that’s how everyone who ever worked under him felt because he was such an engaging person. He was known for his infectious sense of humour and charismatic personality, and always had something hilarious to say. I worked with David and Judy for four years before moving away to Toronto and eventually to Vancouver. I’d been good about keeping in touch with them and would regularly go back and visit, but over the last few years I’d lost touch. It saddens me knowing it is too late to remedy the situation, and I will never get the chance to laugh with David again. He will be greatly missed.
The Art Gallery of Peel and Peel Heritage Complex will hold a celebration of David Somers’ life for friends and colleagues on Thursday, May 28 at 7pm.
Peel Heritage Complex
Historic Peel County Courthouse
3 Wellington St. E. in Brampton