Egret and crab

Friday, December 1, 2023

Happy Birthday, Amos

My dad, Amos Sommers, would have been 97 two days ago. 

Happy birthday, pop. 

Here is his picture in front of a tank in Israel, the land where he was born.

My dad was a nice guy but like his son and father, had a fierce temper that fortunately didn't blow all that often.  

Tough as nails, could have been a general.

I once saw him choose off about fifteen guys at the same time by himself in Los Angeles. 

But that is another story for another day.

My dad was a brilliant man, a mathematician, economist, physics buff who liked to program spreadsheets and build scale models of the communities he developed. He was an army photographer, wrestled, played soccer and football at UCLA. Built houses, apartments and condos all over San Diego Country. Enjoyed football, baseball, basketball and listening to Verdi. Loved to travel.

I got this letter from Mike Reardon today:

Look through this and see the house built by Sommers Poutous… is that your Dad?


It is indeed one of my father's homes, and he once was in partnership with John Poutous. I sent this letter to the editor of Modern San Diego, Keith York:

My friend Mike sent me your listing of one of my dad's houses in El Cajon. My father Amos Sommers built hundreds if not thousands of homes in San Diego and North County in his forty year plus career.  He started in the early 1950's as CFO of American Housing Guild. He broke away and started a partnership with local native american John Potous in the late fifties. Later he went on his own, as Sommers Development, building everything from low income to some of the nicest neighborhoods in San Diego, e.g. Alvarado Estates and Del Cerro Highlands. His principal architect was always Dale Naegle and I have no doubt that he designed the home you have shown in your post. I loved watching Dale work as he preferred a fat marker and onion skin, loved to conceptualize on the fly. The late Lou Orrantia was another designer, with Alvarado Engineering, later he became our vice president.
I was a superintendent, then Project Manager and finally a homebuilding partner with my father, later in my career.


Robert Sommers
Fallbrook, CA

He responded:

Hello Robert -

So great to hear from you. Do you know where all of the Sommers Potous projects were? Do you have any files denoting the firm's history/projects?

I sold 5358 Brockbank Place a few years ago which is the first time I came across your father's company. This is all I could find when I did a newspaper search!

I wrote him back:

There were so many I could not list. I was young when they were in partnership. BTW, Poutous's son was the president of the local Hell's Angels chapter. My dad and John started as a framing company, they were the first framers of Rancho Bernardo for Avco. My dad had various entities after that, Amso, Somam, etc. but most work was done under the sobriquet Sommers Development. He also built the first condo project in the state, possibly country, the La Mesa Townhomes.


Robert Sommers

I would just like to say that I am proud of my father and his legacy as a pioneering San Diego homebuilder. He built homes for everybody, rich or poor, but ultimately felt he should be providing affordable housing for our community.

Having said that, he did indeed build some remarkable homes in his time, especially in Del Cerro and Alvarado. Glad that people are finally asking about him. Nice to see Modern San Diego doing a piece on American Housing Guild too.

1 comment:

Sanoguy said...

Great to read the story about your dad!

Keith York puts out a weekly newsletter focusing mainly on mid - century modern houses in the SD area among other areas. I always find it interesting!