Lt. Colonel Ernest (Ernie) Somoza, aged 67, passed away from heart failure on August 29, 2017 in Newport, OR. This beloved teacher is survived by his wife Kathy (another teacher), and two children Andre and Renee (also teachers).
Ernie was born to Artemisa (Merino) and Ernesto Somoza on September 29, 1949 in Tucson, AZ. He has three older sisters, Celina, Beatriz, and Teresa, and two younger brothers, Xavier and George.
Ernie grew up and graduated high school in Douglas, AZ.
While attending Arizona State University he joined the ROTC program and became an Air Force officer upon graduation. He impressed his superiors with outstanding leadership and communication skills, and his ability to command aircraft. Over 21 years of service Ernie was stationed around the world, including in Thailand, Hawaii, Germany, Spain, Honduras, and Puerto Rico.
After he retired from the Air Force in 1994, the Somoza family settled in Flagstaff, AZ, where Ernie began a new career with the Flagstaff Unified School District. Don Ernesto (as he was known to his students) worked at several schools but most notably at Flagstaff High School, where he was often recognized for being a talented and popular Spanish teacher.
He inspired countless young people to travel abroad and pursue their mastery of the language. During this period he also volunteered a tremendous amount of time and energy to supporting community youth sports and activities. But Ernie was an FHS Eagle at heart, and as the “Voice of the Eagles” he announced football, volleyball, and softball contests, as well as graduation ceremonies.
Ernie retired from teaching in 2012 and moved to Newport, OR, where he enjoyed walking his rescue dog Suzy through the forest, on the beach, and around the bay... except for the day he was forced to beat back a pack of escaped junkyard guard dogs to save her life once more.
Services are to be held on Saturday, October 21, at St. Luke’s Church in Douglas, AZ: Rosary at 9:30am, Mass at 10am.
In lieu of flowers, please make memorial donations to Puerto Rico hurricane relief.