VINCENNES – Thirty-three years to the day after Dr. Phillip M. Summers was inaugurated VU’s 18th President in 1980, he was laid to rest Thursday in Vincennes. Hundreds attended his funeral in VU’s Red Skelton Performing Arts Center—a building he championed during his 21-year presidency.
Tributes to Summers were presented by his three daughters, co-workers, and leaders from the Disciples of Christ Church and Summers’ fraternity, Pi Kappa Phi. More than 60 members of the Indiana University Chapter of Pi Kappa Phi sang a tribute to Summers, “The Brotherhood Song”, composed by Summers.
“In a world sometimes awash in cynicism, celebrity, narcissism and other things of fleeting impermanence—really all fool’s gold—Phil brought real value to the lives of those fortunate enough to call him friend and brother,” said Mark Timmes, CEO of Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity. After reciting a long list of leadership roles Summers performed for the fraternity, including many awards he received, Timmes said, “For Phil it was never about this. It was about the student experience and positively impacting young men’s lives. It was therefore fitting that our fraternity now calls our Student of the Year award the Phillip M. Summers Student of the Year.”
Rev. Rick J. Grant, senior minister of First Christian Church, told several stories of working with Summers for the past six years, most recently his volunteering to pass out backpacks to 600 children in August.
“For those children, it was a big thing and so it was a big thing for Dr.
Summers,” Grant said.
Several speakers praised Summers’ faith life and service to his church.
“His faith meant staying focused. Keep the big things the big things. His way of seeing the big picture moved mountains of doubt. Staying faithful was not optional for him. Being true to the cause required giving whatever it took to get the job done,” Grant said.