He was known to many as just Mr. Yaffe--a twist on an electrical business, Yaffe Electric, that he owned for many years.
John Sommer was a good man--he was a holocaust survivor who came to America, married his dear wife Yona, had two boys--Danny and Harry--and worked hard in his business for his family and his community.
Yona, was a saintly woman, who died about 11 years ago from cancer and John carried on into his upper 80's with many an illness--finally succumbing on Friday night into a coma, and last night, he passed.
John and Yona were wonderful to me--as I was friends with their sons--and their home was like a 2nd home for me.
I always felt like I had a place at their table and they made me feel like one of the family.
I remember saying the table prayers before and after meals there, talking about religion and politics, playing board and video games, watching movies, doing homework, and more.
On the Jewish holidays, the Sommers invited my family to join them, and they joined us on the Sabbath at times, and on Thanksgiving, we meet at the restaurant together.
The Sommers sat just two rows behind us in Synagogue, but that didn't stop some friendly banter between us all--G-d forgive us.
Regularly after synagogue on weekdays, John Sommer would say let me give you a lift home--he was always willing to help others.
For the community, he frequently gave his electrician services to the synagogue for free and sponsored the kiddish (meal) after the services.
The Sommers were at my Bar Mitzvah and my wedding, and I always remember their friendship and generosity.
Losing good people is very painful--there are not enough of them in this world.
I pray that John is now with his wife, Yona, in heaven--and that they are at peace and that their legacy of good deeds continues long after.
Good people should not suffer, but these people did as so many do--it is not easy to live or to die, but I have fond memories of what they gave to me and I am grateful to them.
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)