A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Frank Sommerkamp dies at 93, a model of the quintessential community servant of his generation

By Judy Clabes
NKyTribune editor

If ever there were a model for what the perfect community servant might be, the ideal candidate would undoubtedly be Frank Sommerkamp. During the years when a disparate collection of three counties and a gaggle of cities were finding ways to define themselves as a region called “Northern Kentucky,” there was Frank mixing it up and engaged in every way.

Frank Sommerkamp

He died on Monday, November 7, at age 93 at Emerald Trace in Elsmere, after a full life of service to others. He is survived by his loving wife of 69 years, Patricia Sommerkamp, who was part of the dynamic duo who helped make Northern Kentucky a great place to call home.

He is also survived by a son, Dr. Greg Sommerkamp and wife Abby of Edgewood; daughters, Daria Nantista of Crestview Hills, Tara Santry and husband Rick of Allendale, NJ; ten grandchildren and nine great grandchildren.

Frank Sommerkamp touched so many organizations and lead so many initiatives, all with his signature enthusiasm and positivity. Something needed to be done that was good for the community — “sure,” Frank would say. “Let’s do it.”

He was always the person “working the room” at any community gathering or social event. The one with the big smile and welcoming handshake who knew your name and the name of your kids. The one who welcomed everyone in with a kind word and an uplifting attitude. His positivity was contagious and he shared generously.

Frank headed what was a big, must-do community gathering back in those days — the Spiral Festival, which was a week-long series of events that engaged hundreds of community leaders and volunteers around a major race day at Turfway Park and led to one of the biggest gatherings of the year involving tents and festivities and good times for all — and had a number of charitable components.

A graduate of Xavier, he was vice president of Government Affairs for Cincinnati Bell and served as the volunteer chair of the Northern Kentucky Chamber in the early days of the united, regional Chamber. He also served as chair and/or member of the Thomas More College Board of Trustees, the Greater Cincinnati Convention board, the Northern Kentucky Convention and Visitors board, the Covington Business Council, the then-Forward Quest board of directors, the Covington Rotary Club, the Greater Cincinnati United Way, the Tri-ED board, the St. Pius school board, the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport board, and the St. Elizabeth Hospital Foundation Board of Directors. He also served on the Crestview Hills City Council.

That’s just to name a few. But the point is that Frank Sommerkamp’s footprints were everywhere, always leaving a path for others to follow.

He and his wife, Pat, were the recipients of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation’s Devou Cup in 2014. And Frank gathered awards aplenty through his long career.

Frank was in the NKY Sports Hall of Fame and was a member of St. Pius X Church, Summit Hills Country Club and Five Seasons Family Sports Club.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Frank Sommerkamp, Sr. and Laura Nienaber Sommerkamp; brothers, Paul and Bill Sommerkamp, and sister, Esther Averdick.

Visitation is Saturday, November 26, 2022, from 9 a.m. until the Mass of Christian Burial at 10:30 a.m. all in St. Pius X Church, 348 Dudley Rd, Edgewood.

Interment in St. Mary’s Cemetery, Ft. Mitchell.

In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested to Thomas More University, to the Sommerkamp Family Scholarship Fund, 333 Thomas More Pkwy, Crestview Hills, KY 41017 or Faith Community Pharmacy, 7033 Burlington Pike #4, Florence, KY 41042.

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  1. Barbara Cunningham says:

    A very nice article about a very nice man. I had the privilege and pleasure of working with Frank for many years on the St. Elizabeth Medical Center Foundation Board. Everything Judy has said about Frank in this article was so true. His can do attitude always prevailed.
    Frank was instrumental is getting the right people involved in the foundation when it was formed, many who are still involved. He also was a gifted educator for all new members who came on board once the original foundations was established.
    My condolences to Pat and the rest of the family. Rest In Peace Frank, you certainly earned your angel wings!

  2. I join Barb Cunningham in thanking Judy Clabes for not forgetting all that Frank Sommerkamp did for so many organizations in Northern Kentucky. He absolutely was the “quintessential servant of Northern Kentucky” She has caught his spirit perfectly. In my case, as a new arrival from Washington D.C. in 1975 to Thomas More College, it was Frank Sommerkamp who encouraged me to get involved in the community from the beginning. He introduced me to many community leaders, and nominated me for membership in the Covington Rotary Club, an organization I am still active with over 45 years later. Frank exemplified the concept of giving back to one’s community and helping those in need on the many community projects that the Rotary Club was involved in. I also saw Frank as a model Board of Trustees member at Thomas More College. He helped us get through some difficult years and was always available if I needed advice or wanted to meet someone I had not yet met that might help with projects I was a part of and later encouraged me to get involved in our Co-op Program, that his wife Pat had helped to establish. It was in the early 1980’s that the Co- op Program was at its peak and I was honored to be a part of it, learning much from Jim Becker and Pat Sommerkamp. Pat was an outstanding faculty member, always encouraging Frank to stay involved with the College’s projects even though he always had many other irons in the fire at the same time.. I also appreciated Frank’s encouraging me in 1986 to apply for the open position of Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College, a position I held from 1987-2001. His confidence in me was also always an incentive to my involvement with other organizations I became involved with in the community as well. I will never forget his mentorship just as his legacy at Thomas More College/University will be remembered by so many. Our condolences and prayers go out to his wife Pat and all of the Sommerkamp family.

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