The Loss of a New Found Friend – Walter “Wally” Sommer

Updated: Mar 14


Walter with Isobel at the German Club recently. What a photo!

It is an interesting fact that throughout life you meet certain people, and you seem to just simply click with them. That is how I found Walter and the shame of it all, is that we did not have time to allow the friendship to develop further. But I knew in my heart it was developing towards a long-term friendship.


I am not too sure of what happened at Mission beach where he and Isobel were holidaying. But I have been told, that his boat “Sommer Breeze” broke away from its mooring and was drifting away, so Wally, who would of course not like that, and just like not giving up on a tennis ball, just out of reach, he swam after the boat. Walter was very confident in the water as he was into snorkelling and scuba diving and not just snow skiing. However, the tides in North Queensland are very high and come in and go out like a tidal wave and he got caught in a rip and drowned. Paul MacKenzie had received some photos earlier in the week from Wally. See below. Thank you, Paul, for sharing.


Walter, Isobel and friend at Mission Beach earlier in the week.

Walter's Boat Sommer Breeze out from Mission Beach

The first contact I had with Walter was him having a dig at me about the photo on my email when I first took over the running of the Toowong Tennis Old Dogs. But that was Walter, he would say what he thought. If you did not like it, it was your problem. But as time went on, I found Walter to be this fun-loving guy who just loved to have a dig at you. He was very much into exercise and loved his boxing sessions that occurred in the morning before tennis in the afternoon. So, he would always come up to me and tell me he was ready for any trouble with me on the court and would sit me on my arse with his 3-punch combination if I tried anything. We would spar up to each other with big smiles on both our faces.


How I will miss that smile and the fun of bantering that we would do around the court? I will so dearly miss now the opportunity of not being able to foster our friendship further. Just a few weeks ago, my wife and I had invited Walter and Isobel over to our house for a dinner party, as I knew this was a friendship I wanted to develop further. Unfortunately, one of his grandkids were having an important 21st birthday celebration, on that night so we had to postpone it. Our loss, not to have another opportunity, but he was there for his grandchildren and family as always.


Walter and his Grandkids

Just recently, we started the mixed doubles group at Rainworth, and Wally wanted to be a part of it and wanted Isobel to be part also. So, after convincing her and giving some match plays with her at their home court, he got Isobel back on the tennis court after an absence of some 17 odd years. They both really enjoyed the games and would have been back next week. They will be sadly missed, and I hope that sometime in the future maybe Isobel will join us again.


Before COVID, when travelling overseas regularly was part of our lives, it was very much a part of Wally’s and Isobel lives, with regular trips overseas. Often Wally would send me photos of the places they were. He was a highly active man and seemed to love the challenges, even getting helicopters to mountain tops then skiing down the slopes.


Walter skiing in Greenland with helicopter in background.

He had a zest for life and I just recently was thinking as he was running around the court, I hope I am still that good when I get to 80.



Today, I played tennis with the mixed doubles group, where normally, Wally and Isobel played, and every time I looked around the courts I saw Wally, his smiling face, his eagerness to get to the ball (not to give up), and the smug look on his face when he did one of those fantastic net volleys that he was renowned for. But I will not forget the banter we always had as we changed sides. It was fun that will be missed.


Wally Sommer, you were a great and valued member of the Toowong Tennis Old Dogs. You will be dearly missed, but never forgotten Friend, I just wish I had more time to really get to know you more.


Please add your comments and contribute your knowledge and understanding as to the life of Wally Sommer because a number of members would have known more about this great individual.

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