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Ayse Somersan's Online Memorial Photo

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Tribute Wall


Zeynep Rena Somersan Turna
#21 From Mary MaierZeynep Rena Somersan Turna 2017-12-03 15:51
My Best Boss ever. We worked together, shopped together and celebrated together. I've enjoyed our friendship and the family.
Zeynep Rena Somersan Turna
#20 From Kirsten BrekkeZeynep Rena Somersan Turna 2017-12-03 15:33
Dearest Ayse,

My entire childhood, every formative moment and major life endeavor has been colored and bolstered by your presence. As a child and young teen, I recall vividly the feeling of comfort, peace and excitement in knowing that our weekend would entail time with our Somersan family. Our time together in Stoughton, Annen Lane, Inner Dr., travels to Door Cty, Captiva, the boat (on the Mississippi) and getaways to a local Holiday Inn. These memories were everything to me as a child. Truly everything. The laughter, shenanigans of our parents, the feasts that were made and the oodles of time for us kids to "just be"...making up our own games, dancing, hiding, dressing up and growing up.
Our Norwegian family came alive in the arms and midst of our Turkish family!

You were my character reference for my application to St. Olaf, a formative four years that has shaped me. You were my rock during Mom's first and scariest heart surgeries (my freshman year at St.Olaf). Your presence and love during our wedding and the sharing of love after the birth of Jens and Lillie. All of this, is fresh in my mind and deep in my heart. You are bigger than life to me Ayse. The very symbol of why we fight, as women, for everything we deserve...fair pay, respect from our peers, access to reproductive freedom and the elevation of women to power in all aspects of our world. This must happen.

I wish I could be with you, to hold your hand, give you a gentle hug and tell you how much I love you. You are my second Mom and I am so grateful for the love, lessons and inspiration you have shared with me during my 48 years. I will always think of you dancing (whimsically with my Mom and Dot in Door Cty), cooking crayfish for us, making cherry pies, cooking dolma and pilaf, your stunning make up and polished beauty, your bold and beautiful voice, your impressive career, your love of boating...wind in your hair and sun on your face and your laughter. I will carry these and thousands of other memories of our time together in my mind and heart forever. I love you Ayse

Your Norwegian daughter,
Zeynep Rena Somersan Turna
#19 From Erin Bryer (Curt&Lauren Smith's niece)Zeynep Rena Somersan Turna 2017-12-03 15:25
Erin Bryer
I don't have a specific story in mind to share. My strongest impressions and the most important thing that stayed with me regarding my time with Ayse, was how she motivated me. I was still in high school when I met her, and she asked me about my plans for the future, what I wanted to do with my life, and I didn't really have a lot to say. She told me about her own accomplishments and how hard she worked to attain her goals. Ayse wasn't shy about telling me to work hard and to have a plan.  I remember being so blown away by her - so impressed. I was a young person, in a different country, getting to explore and enjoy new things, and the best part of the whole experience was the people I was with, and how excited and driven I felt about my own path going forward. (That and all the wonder homemade Turkish food while in Italy) 

Thank you so much for including me. ️
Zeynep Rena Somersan Turna
#18 From Curt SmithZeynep Rena Somersan Turna 2017-12-03 15:22
Ayse was my mother's best friend. They met through their work with the University of Wisconsin. They quickly developed a bond based on their shared wit, intelligence and determination as progressive women. In their later years they enjoyed extensive travel together and eventually settled in the
same area of Florida. Lauren and I became involved with the "Large Italian Family"; at this stage and immediately felt adopted. Ayse was one of the few people my mother truly admired. I will forever be grateful for the wonderful life my mother experienced being Ayse's friend and the friendship that Lauren and I have enjoyed with them.
Zeynep Rena Somersan Turna
#17 From Tim BayeZeynep Rena Somersan Turna 2017-12-03 15:19
To My Colleagues,
For some of you the name in the title line may ring a bell, some how you heard her name in passing. For some of you, the name and the legacy has no recollection, prompts no recall. For some of you, knowing that Ayse has passed will hit you, make you pause and immediately drawn your mind, your memories into some place of significance. For there are few people who have been more capable of making a lifelong and lasting impression than Dr. Aysegul Cilli Somersan.

Ayse Somersan was CNRED program leader in 1987, the year I was hired. During the new employee orientation she asked me how long I expected to stay with UWEX. My response was cordial and diplomatic. I attempted to redirect the question. In my mind, maybe 2 years. She looked at me with that stare, exhaling the drag from her extra long Salem light, leaned over the desk and said - "don't even think about it, you got Extension bones." I thought she was.... well, both intimidating and delusional. That was nearly 30 years ago. If anything, Ayse Somersan knew exactly how to motivate, inspire and lead.

She was both an administrative force, with a capital "F" and a brilliant tactician. Ayse's vision was to build upon the legacy of Chancellor Pat Boyle's solidification of UW-Extension as the finest and most comprehensive life-long/geogr aphically dense/disciplin e leading extension system in the U.S. From Statewide expansion of Economic and Business Development, to Watershed systems, to expanded resources in Community Planning and Non-Profits, Ayse established the CRD Program area into the envy of the Nation. Her strength of will and ability to persuade others to support her vision....legen dary.

Ayse moved from the program area to the Dean's office. While I cannot claim to be historian during her tenure for the advances in the other program areas, the continuity of her strong and distinct leadership style was evident from day one. Having Ayse setting the tone and personifying the confidence and vision of UWEX instilled similar confidence throughout our "food chain."

Now, truth be told, Dr. Somersan could dish out discipline as well as she could offer support. Finding yourself on her "black-list" was not a safe place. Sharp and stern, her wrath cut hard and deep, but seldom lingered. You paid you penitence, tucked your head and moved on.

After Ayse left her Deanship, returning to her Turkish home, many of us knew that her eyes and ears remained upon "her team." Emails, a few phone calls or a relayed message through a mutual friend, let you know Dean Somersan remained tied in, aware and supportive.

Today's news hit hard. Reminiscing about UWEX's glory under her leadership. My personal benefit from knowing her and calling her a mentor. Knowing I will not cower again, in the haze of smoke and hearing the laugh, all while being inspired to be the best Extension professional I could be, makes me very sad. Dr. Aysegul Cilli Somersan you are and will be missed.

God's speed.


Timothy M. Baye
Professor, Business Development
State Energy Specialist
University of Wisconsin-Extension
Mail: 432 N. Lake St. Room 625, Madison WI 53706
Alternate e-mail: pdfllc@yahoo.com
Zeynep Rena Somersan Turna
#16 From Gerry CampbellZeynep Rena Somersan Turna 2017-12-03 03:03
View and listen to Sara and May Belle Carter's 1934 recording

Hello Central, Give Me Heaven

Hello Central, Give me Heaven
For I know my mother's there
And you'll find her with the angels
Over on the golden stair

She'll be glad it's me a speaking
Won't you call her for me please
For I surely want to tell her
That we're sad without her here

Hello Central, Give me Heaven
For I know my mother's there
And you'll find her with the angels
Over on the golden stair

Poppa dear is sad and lonely
Sobbed the tearful little child
Since Momma's gone to heaven
Poppa dear you do not smile

I will speak to her and tell her
That we want her to come home
You just listen while I call her
Call her through the telephone

I will answer just to please her
Yes dear heart I'll soon come home
Kiss me momma it's your darling
Kiss me through the telephone
Zeynep Rena Somersan Turna
#15 From JoAnn Gruber-HagenZeynep Rena Somersan Turna 2017-12-03 02:57
I feel very blessed to have served in a role in Cooperative Extension that gave me regular access to Ayse for a number of years. She was truly a wonder to behold - which sometimes cut in multiple directions. I was the HR Dir with her and she informed me early on that one of my job’s top priorities was to keep her out of jail for violating one of the million or so HR rules she chafed under but was expected to follow. Guess I did as we kept her out of jail!

I really valued my face time with her. I learned a lot and enjoyed her company. No one had better command of the English language than Ayse and she could use it so beautifully and powerfully. She just pulled you right into what she was saying.

I haven’t seen Ayse for some time but I’m sure that she lived her life right to the end in the same manner she lived her life as I knew her in Cooperative Extension - fully and powerfully with total conviction to what she believed in.

Ayse - Peace be with you as you embark upon your new, exciting adventure. I’m sure you’ll have it shaped up in no time. And I hope you get your fervent wish to work somewhere where there aren’t lots of rules you aren’t supposed to break - but then you always did believe it was more productive to ask for forgiveness rather than permission. I expect that is how you got so much done. Carry on!!
Zeynep Rena Somersan Turna
#14 From Mary Brintnall-Peter sonZeynep Rena Somersan Turna 2017-12-03 02:53
Dear Family Members,
It is hard to lose someone you love but hopefully the realization of how much your mother meant to others will help ease your pain. First off, I don't think there is another person on this planet that was or is like your mother. She was a mentor to me and someone who believed in me. Without her involvement in my Extension career I would not have become the person I am today or had the Extension career which I loved. You see -- it was your mom who helped me find my life's passion through support, love, friendship and kindness. You see -- she modeled how to be a wife, mother and career professional to us emerging women professionals. Even though I haven't had contact with your mom for years she was always in my heart. As you already know she was a remarkable woman and one who I will never forget and my life has been blessed because she was a part of it. Thank you for sharing her with me! Feeling blessed, Mary (excerpted from a letter brought to the Memorial day in Madison, November 11, 2017)
Zeynep Rena Somersan Turna
#13 From Jim LeverichZeynep Rena Somersan Turna 2017-12-03 02:47
Thank you for sharing this important day with us. Sounds like she was a super mom and family person as well as a super leaders for all of us. She gives us all courage to take on challenges that we all encounter.

She was always a positive inspiration and just full of energy and enthusiasm. She reminds me of the light from a candle. She always encouraged us to experience the uncomfortable situation and then make the best of it and consequently make it better. Thank you for having this memory day and I hope we all speak on her behalf about the future of our Extension Service or actually Wisconsin's people's Extension Service. Thank you, Jim Leverich (written at the Memorial day in Madison, November 11, 2017)
Zeynep Rena Somersan Turna
#12 From Cathy TechtmanZeynep Rena Somersan Turna 2017-12-03 02:43
How I met Ayse - drawing the "Eye" ~
Finding out she was a National Champion swimmer; having her give me The Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun; Eating sushi at Union Station; Rural Leadership; fear of flying - even more than me! She gave me the eye; she showed me how to be a UWEX pro; we are her children. Perseverance; brave; leadership secrets! (notes from speech made at the Memorial day in Madison, November 11, 2017)

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