Ada Somsby

Joyce,  Ada and Marjie Sombsy 

Click here for Memories of Ada 

By the Wenonah  family she mothered.


From her obituary in the NY Times 2005:

SOMSBY--Ada N. October 12, at age 101. Widow of Saul. Beloved mother of Joyce and Myron Friedman, and Marjorie and Stanley Rose. Loving grandchildren Amy Carusone, Alyssa Owens, John Friedman, Henry Rose, Jane Berlant. Adored great- grandchildren Rebecca and Holly Owens, Benjamin and Adam Rose, Amie and Marissa Berlant. She was as Assistant Director of Camp Wenonah for Girls, Naples, ME. for many years.

 From the 2007 Summersalt


My mother was originally a legal secretary at a legal firm in New York.  She was very competent.  She hadn’t worked for a while, but because of the Depression, she needed to go back to work.  So she hired a woman to take care of my sister and me, and she applied for this job—she thought she was just going to help May Baar in the office in New York. 

 

The office was in May Baar’s apartment at the Olcott Hotel.  Mother would go there every day, and May Baar also trained her to go on business trips to Ohio and Massachusetts to try to enlist campers, to interview the parents and their daughters, to decide if they were suitable for Wenonah.  Mother was just a helper during the winter months, but May Baar became very attached to her and said she’d like mother to come up to camp in the summer.

 

So mother said, “What am I going to do with my kids?”  So May Baar said, “Bring them here, and if they pass muster, they can come to camp.”  So we passed muster, and that was that.  That was the summer of 1942, I believe, the first year of the war.

 

Mother was entirely committed to the job.  She was May Baar’s right-hand-man.  Herman was in the Army during those first years, and May Baar broke her in, teaching her how to take over.  And when May Baar died and Herman became the camp director, mother became assistant director. 

 

My sister, Marjie, was a camper.  She was a white cap in swimming and captain of the Dog Team.  I was a camper and a counselor—I taught swimming and tennis, and I went on overnights, some of them three-day trips.  Naomi Leyhe was the head counselor.  She was on the faculty at Indiana University and mother got the cream of the crop for Wenonah from Naomi.  Those counselors were some of the finest women.  I think they helped to formulate our thoughts and endeavors. 

 

I hope you have a wonderful reunion.  My heart’s going to be with you.

 

                                          — Joyce Somsby Friedman