Jesse Sommers Tarleton, 86, 27-year W&M business administration professor

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Jesse Sommers Tarleton
Jesse Sommers Tarleton

Jesse Sommers Tarleton died Oct. 8, 2015, in Nashville, Tennessee, after a long illness. He was 86.

He was born on Nov. 1, 1928, in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania. He was a kindhearted, loving husband and father, and he will be dearly missed.

Upon graduation from high school, Jesse served in the Occupation Army in Japan from 1946 to 1948 as the camp sports reporter. He then received a bachelor’s in chemical engineering from Penn State University, a Ph.D in chemical engineering from Cornell University and an M.B.A from The College of William & Mary.

Jesse worked as a research engineer for DuPont in Wilmington, Delaware. He then moved to Williamsburg where he was a senior engineer for Dow Chemical Company for 11 years. He served as a professor of business administration at the College of William & Mary from 1970 to 1997 when he retired professor emeritus.

Jesse and Lavonne Olson married in 1955 and enjoyed a very happy 60 years together. Jesse was a lifelong world traveler and an avid railroad enthusiast. He was a devoted parishioner of St. Bede Catholic Church in Williamsburg for 54 years where he served as a Eucharistic minister.

Jesse was active in planning and economic development for the City of Williamsburg for many years, including leadership positions. Jesse was a dedicated member of the Kiwanis Club for 53 years, and was secretary for eight years. He was an enthusiastic walker and volunteer in the Colonial Roadrunners.

After retirement, he and Lavonne became certified USA track and field officials, working track meets between Richmond and Norfolk. Jesse and Lavonne moved to Nashville in 2013 to be near their daughter and grandchildren.

Jesse is survived by his wife, Lavonne, of Nashville; daughter, Lesley Omary, son-in-law, Reed Omary and their three children, of Nashville; son, David Tarleton, daughter-in-law, Adria Dawn Tarleton and their son, Hart Tarleton, of Oak Park, Illinois; sister, Lesley Julian, of Louisville, Colorado; and seven nieces and their children.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Leslie and Jessie Tarleton and brother, Richard Tarleton.

A wake will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 16, 2015, at Nelsen Funeral Home, 3785 Strawberry Plains Road, Williamsburg. The funeral Mass will be celebrated at 8 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015, at St. Bede Catholic Church on Ironbound Road. Burial will follow at Cedar Grove Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the Kiwanis Club of Williamsburg Foundation, P.O. Box 5533, Williamsburg, VA 23188-5533.

Please leave online condolences for the family at Nelsen Funeral Home.

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