LEONARDTOWN, Md. – Sheriff Tim Cameron, the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office, the Maryland State Highway Administration, Maryland Senator Jack Bailey, Maryland Delegate Brian Crosby, Maryland Delegate Matt Morgan, the St. Mary’s County Commissioners, several active and retired judges and the family of Sheriff Joseph Lee Somerville Sr. gathered on Friday, Sept. 16, 2022, to celebrate the dedication of 10 miles of Route 5 after the Sheriff.
The section of Route 5 from its intersection with Hollywood Road in Leonardtown to its intersection with Route 235 in Mechanicsville was dedicated in honor of Sheriff Joseph Lee Somerville.
Sheriff Somerville became the first black deputy in St. Mary’s County when he joined the Sheriff’s Office in 1966. Deputy Somerville, a native of Loveville, was promoted to Lieutenant in 1976.
The following year, Lt. Somerville was appointed by Governor Marvin Mandel to continue the term of Sheriff George Sanger, who passed away unexpectedly.
Sworn in on the steps of the courthouse in Leonardtown on March 1, 1977, Sheriff Somerville became the first black Sheriff in St. Mary’s County and in the state of Maryland. In 1978, Sheriff Somerville successfully ran for election to the office, becoming the county’s and state’s first elected black Sheriff. He was also the sixth black Sheriff in the United States at the time.
Sheriff Somerville retired from the Sheriff’s Office in 1982. He continued to live in St. Mary’s County and two of his son’s followed in their father’s footsteps as St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office Deputies.
He died on April 1, 2021 at the age of 81.
Two of his sons, Kevin and Joe Lee Jr., followed in his footsteps and served with the St. Mary’s Sheriff’s Office as well.