Paul D. Somerville Jr. was born January 29, 1938 in Media, PA. As the eldest of Paul Sr and Carole Hubert Somerville’s five children, Paul Jr. always expressed adoration for his hard-working parents. He would often say, “my mother took great care of us, and my father could do it all!” When his own father passed away unexpectedly at the age of 29, Paul Jr. was only nine years old. He was thrusted into the role of keeping a watchful eye over his mother, his three brothers (Lonnie, Raymond, and Carl) and his younger sister, Loretta, affectionately referred to as Shou Shou. Even in the most difficult times, Paul Jr could always be counted on to lend a helping hand and bring delight to any room with his kindness, generosity, and storytelling, all hidden behind a knowingly mischievous gaze.
As a 1955 graduate of Media High School (MHS), Paul Jr. was a scholar and multi-sport varsity athlete for the Media Mustangs. He excelled in both track and football. Respected by his peers, he willingly took it upon himself to serve as a role model for younger boys in the Media community by always emphasizing the importance of education and not just athletics.
After high school, Paul Jr. worked at the Philadelphia Inquirer. Shortly thereafter, he met one of his most revered mentors, Dr. Thomas, who stressed the importance of education. The wisdom shared in this relationship prompted Paul Jr to enroll at Cheyney State College to study early childhood education. Similar to both his grandfather George Sr. and Dr. Thomas, Paul Jr also pledged the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Incorporated along with his line brothers Billy Dillon and Joe Moore, “The Fantastic 3”.
Early on, Paul Jr. proved himself as a natural leader, lover of the arts, loyal fraternity brother and friend. He served as President of the Student Government, excelled academically, and nurtured his love of photography, while building lifelong relationships with his fraternity brothers. He was fondly referred to as “Heavy” because of his intellectual prowess and insatiable appetite for learning. While at Cheyney, Paul Jr. was best known for his love for Omega Psi Phi and for his college sweetheart and soon to be wife, Evelyn Outerbridge. They both graduated in Cheyney’s Class of 1962. Paul Jr would now turn his attention to preparing for life beyond Cheyney as an educator and a family man. He went on to become a premier educator in the School District of Philadelphia and the father of two boys, Paul III and Rodney. It was then that Paul Jr. became affectionally known as “Big Paul” or simply “Paul”.
As one of the youngest African American men to pass the Principal’s exam, Paul quickly rose through the ranks in the Philadelphia schools while also mentoring younger teachers from Cheyney State, Morgan State, Lincoln University and Temple University, where he obtained his Master’s degree in Education Administration. Paul retired from his last role as Principal of the Youth Study Center High School for troubled teens after serving 35 years in Philadelphia public schools.
Prior to and in retirement, Paul was lover of jazz and an avid reader. Through his love of learning, he found himself immersed in renewing his home, cars, and the intellect of his mind. Like his father, Paul Jr. could do almost anything he set his mind to. Family and friends also could count on Big Paul to check in with them for uplift and encouragement. In the same spirit, his oldest granddaughter learned from his model, the importance of checking back on “Pop-Pop” regularly to express her and God’s love and concern for him.
Big Paul reveled in family and good food, enjoyed uplifting others but most importantly loved God. Some of his favorite scriptures can be found in the Book of Psalms, including chapters 23, 27, 46, and 90. Lesson 47 of a Course in Miracles became his guide for faithful living and personal devotion. He would often say, “God is the strength in which I trust”. Paul lived life to the fullest and remained thoroughly immersed in the true Omega Spirit until his passing on April 26, 2021.
Paul Somerville, Jr is survived by his wife Evelyn, his 105-year-old mother Carole Somerville Williams, his sons Paul Somerville, III and Rodney Somerville, his sister Dr. Loretta “Shou Shou” Polhill, his four grandchildren, Paul Somerville IV, Malachi Somerville, River Somerville, Shiloh Somerville, and his daughter-in law Avril Somerville, and scores of nieces and nephews.
Submitted With Love, The Family
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