Raymond "Bud" Somerville
was the first American to win the world curling
championship. Acknowledged as America's greatest curler, Somerville was the very first inductee into the U.S. Curling Hall of Fame
and in 2001 received the the World Curling Federation
's highest honor, the Freytag Award
Somerville shocked America's northern neighbors in 1965 when his US team defeated Canada for the unofficial world championship in Perth, Scotland -- the first title for a non-Canadian team. He also led the U.S. rink at the first official world championship -- the Air Canada Silver Broom -- in 1968, and finished third. He followed that up with a second-place finish in 1969. In 1974 Somerville won his second world title and then followed with a second-place finish in 1981 -- after making a comeback from open-heart surgery. He was an alternate for his son Tim's team at the 1995 Worlds, where they finished fourth.
Somerville also competed in two Olympic Games when curling was still a demonstration sport. He was the skip of the U.S. men's team in 1988 that reached the medal round before losing to eventual gold medalist Norway. At age 55, Somerville was again at the helm as the U.S. men's team trekked to Albertville, France for the 1992 Olympics. This time he returned home with a bronze medal. In 2002 he was once again the coach of his son's rink as they represented the U.S.A. in the Salt Lake City Olympics. He is the only curler in the world to have medaled in world-level competition in four different decades.
Perhaps more important than all the championships and medals has been Somerville's exemplary sportsmanship. He has raised thousands of dollars to fight Cystic Fibrosis -- his youngest son, John, died of the disease at the age of 17.
And Bud Somerville has always been willing to share his curling expertise. Over the years he has conducted numerous training clinics for interested curlers throughout Wisconsin. In 1990, he co-authored a book, "The Joy of Curling," with two other multiple world curling champions, Ed Lukowich (Canada) and Eigil Ramsfjell (Norway).
While I was growing up, the Somerville's lived two doors down from us. Their daughter Tracy used to babysit me and my younger brothers; their son John, who died of cystic fibrosis, was my brother Mark's best friend.
Bud Somerville was, and I'm sure still is, a great person. He'd often round up a bunch of us neighborhood kids and take us to baseball games in Duluth, MN (Duluth had a Detroit Tigers minor league team at the time). He'd let us flood their backyard in the winter and we'd play hockey there.
He was a never a boastful person. If you didn't know he was a world curling champion you'd never find out by talking to him -- he'd never bring it up. Truly a gentleman.