After surviving the stress of evacuation and relocation after the Woolsey Fire, Gilbert (Gil) Carl Somerfield died peacefully after a long illness, surrounded by family, in his Malibu home on Nov. 27, 2018.
Born on Aug. 18, 1927, and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y., Gil attended Stuyvesant High School. As a young man, he worked at Ebbets Field (when it was the home of the Brooklyn Dodgers), where he earned the money to move to California and attend UCLA, where he graduated with a degree in political science. A highly successful businessman, Gil, along with his sister and brother-in-law, built Arrow Metals Company, a surplus metals business, from a small home-based business into a major distributor of stainless steel for the aircraft industry, his family shared. He retired in 1985 after 37 years.
During Gil’s working life and in retirement, family shared he was an active sportsman (skiing and hiking into his 80s) and sports fan (the Kings), a political activist for liberal causes, and a philanthropist and volunteer. After the acquisition of his company, he entered and graduated from the Wagner Program at the University of Judaism, where he honed his volunteer skills in their paraprofessional training program, later initiating and facilitating a discussion group on men’s midlife issues that continues to this day.
Among his many community service activities, Gil served as an advocate in the Family Violence Project of Jewish Family Service, assisting injured women in negotiating the court system. He also served on the Board of Directors of Brandeis Bardin, was president of Temple Beth Emet of Burbank and was an active supporter of the Anti-Defamation League, KCRW and various homeless support programs. In Malibu, he served on the board of the Malibu Jewish Center & Synagogue, and was an active member of the Malibu Democratic Club and Malibu Film Society.
While his career achievements and community contributions were significant, Gil’s first love and priority was his close-knit family, who recall him spending countless happy hours in their beautiful, art-filled Malibu home and at their Mammoth lodge. Gil is survived by his wife of almost 65 years, Ellie; their son, Craig; and daughters, Pamela Klein (Robert); and Wendy Levenson, the mother of their four grandchildren: Ariel, Esther, Dena and Mariam.
Friends and family celebrated Gil’s life on Nov. 28 at Mount Sinai Memorial Park. Rabbi Michael Schwartz and Cantor Marcelo Gindlin of MJCS officiated.