William Edwin Jones “Bill” Sumerton died on Wednesday, February 1, 2023, in Novi, Michigan. He spent his final days surrounded by his loving and devoted family. He was 83 years old.

Family was central to Bill’s life, a value instilled in him at a very early age. He was born to Thomas Jones and Marion Fleming on March 12, 1939 in Detroit, Michigan. His mother died five years later, and he was adopted by her sister Bo (Elizabeth) and her husband, Malker Sumerton. Bo died when he was nine, at which point he was taken in by his grandmother and his uncle John in Canada. When his grandmother passed away when he was thirteen, he spent the rest of his adolescence living with a variety of different relatives, all of whom loved, supported, and provided for him.

To experience so many losses at such a young age could have been devastating, but Bill spoke fondly of his childhood for the rest of his life, frequently telling raucous tales of adventure and mischief with his cousins, catching frogs and turtles, swimming in the gravel pit in Harriston, fishing, and generally having an idyllic boyhood in Canada.

Bill graduated from Cooley High School in Detroit in 1956. He worked at Michigan Bell, bagged groceries, and did assorted odd jobs. Throughout his life, Bill had a deep connection to a hard day’s work, and maintained that a strong work ethic (and always being on time—which means ten minutes early) was one of the most important qualities a person could have.

Bill served in the Army and graduated from Walsh with an accounting degree. He traveled extensively in his twenties for work and pleasure—his passport from this time is loaded with stamps from Hong Kong, Korea, Brazil, Australia, England, Puerto Rico, and elsewhere. He kept a map of the world on the wall in his office, adding a pushpin to each location that he visited as he crisscrossed the globe. The map became peppered with colorful pins scattered across the continents, a source of great mystery and wonder to his children and grandchildren. (And if you pointed to any particular pin, you could be sure that he would have a story to tell.)

By 1969, he was working as a manager at the accounting firm LRB&M. He met a secretary there named Linda Underwood. They had an instant connection. Six weeks after their first date, they were engaged, and five months after that, they eloped in Las Vegas on June 26, 1970. They liked to joke about their “whirlwind courtship”—even 52 years later.

They moved to Novi, where they bought a house on a dirt road (that has since become a subdivision among many subdivisions). There, they raised their kids, Mike and Amy. Summers meant trips to Ludington, Michigan, where his beloved sister and her family lived; Canada, where much of his mother’s family lived; Canadian Lakes and Mullet Lake in Michigan, where they vacationed with many of their friends; and amusement parks, like Busch Gardens and Cedar Point. (Bill loved many things, and roller coasters were near the top of the list. It’s a love that he passed on to both of his children, while Linda sat safely on a nearby bench.)

When he “retired,” he kept working. He was finally able to get his dream job—groundskeeper on a golf course. He also worked as a consultant; his love for numbers and making sense of them ran as deep as his love for a hard day’s work.

He and Linda began traveling to Florida after Christmas each year, where they spent the winter months among their many friends in the Sea Towers community. They enjoyed tennis tournaments, happy hours, reading, and golf. Of course, their children and grandchildren heard from them regularly throughout these trips with letters, postcards, phone calls, and Bill’s meticulously crafted Excel spreadsheet for the annual family March Madness brackets.

Bill loved telling stories, and he did so with joy and enthusiasm. He had a hundred stories from his days of auditing and accounting, and he told them so well that you didn’t mind when he occasionally repeated one.

He felt that playing golf was a sort of life philosophy—when you’re out there on the course, everything else just goes away. He was, a bit secretly, also a very sensitive, creative, artistic soul. Sure, he was an accountant, he created so many (now we know for sure: so many) spreadsheets and programs to make everything in his life run smoothly and efficiently. But he also set the desktop wallpaper on his computer to cycle through photos he’d taken of his favorite views from windows: that from his office onto the Maples golf course (in all kinds of weather), that from the back door of the screened-in porch on Tanglewood, that of the lagoon from the apartment at Sea Towers in Florida, and others.

His love for his family was fierce and loyal. His adult children were regular recipients of practical “dad gifts” (emergency lights, jumpstart kits, and the like), and he was a regular and active presence in the lives of his grandchildren, acting as tutor, playmate, babysitter, storyteller, and beyond. Sometimes he was in the center of the action, and other times he watched quietly from the side with a smile on his face. He was always present for them.

He could not tolerate complainers or whiners. He felt that life was good, it was a gift—and, of course, that it could always be worse. He chose to spend his energy making things better, and instilling that value in his children and grandchildren.

Bill (also known to family and friends as Billy, Slick Willie, Dad, Grandpa, Papa, and “Soft Lips”) is survived by Linda, his beloved wife of 52 years, their children, Michael (Caty) and Amy (Jason), and an even dozen grandchildren (Haley, Lucy, Marie, Veronica, Max, Jane, Violet, Solanus, Ignatius, Abe, Peter, and Joseph). He is also survived by his dear cousin Harold (Irene).

He was preceded in death by many adored family members and friends. These include his mother, adoptive mother, adoptive father, and his beloved big sister Sal (Thelma—she got the nickname because little Billy couldn’t pronounce Thelma, and it sure stuck) and brother Tom, as well as his cherished aunt and uncle, Margaret and Mel, and his treasured cousins, Rod, Lee, Janis, and Marlo. The living remain hopeful that he’s somewhere with all of them now, probably playing super-fast games of euchre and cribbage while swapping stories and laughter over a case of Amber Bock.