Daughter Pam Gardner, professor of Nursing at VU, said that among the many lessons she learned from her father, the one that remembers the best was when he asked her, “Are you part of the problem or are you part of the solution.”
Gazella Summit, who worked in several capacities for Summers, said that he was an “encourager who worked at making individuals feel at ease. He would come from around the desk and sit in a chair facing the faculty member, student, administrator or visitor and he truly listened because he cared.”
Emphasizing the value he placed on education, Summitt said that Summers had encouraged her to first complete her bachelor’s degree and then her master’s degree. “I told him I would be 50 years old by then but he just smiled and answered softly, but you will be an educated 50,” Summitt said.
She followed his advice and became Director of Human Resources for VU.
Summers longtime friend and colleague, C. James McCormick, who worked with Summers as a member of the VU Board of Trustees and Red Skelton Museum Foundation, concluded the funeral with an announcement that Lothian Skelton, the widow of Red Skelton, made a $50,000 donation this week to the Red Skelton Museum of American Comedy at VU, in honor of Summers.
“Lothian thought the world of Dr. Summers. I can say in all honesty that she loved him for who he was and what he stood for. When she found out he died, she immediately called me and was in tears. Late Tuesday evening she called me, again almost in tears, and she said she wanted to do something for the Red Skelton Museum in honor of Dr. Summers. She said she is donating $50,000 in honor of Dr. Summers,” McCormick said to applause of the audience.