Nita Wilkes Summers
2006 Honorary Alumni
Through numerous philanthropic endeavors Juanita Wilkes Summers has enjoyed giving back to her community from early on in her life. She has been part of many different types of community activities wherever she has lived. Whether it is Columbia, South Carolina, or Johnson City, Tennessee, Summers takes a “hands on” approach to helping those in need in her neighborhood.
Before moving to Johnson City , Summers enrolled at Columbia College where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1972. Eighteen months later, she achieved her Master in Education from the University of South Carolina . Summers taught speech therapy for grades K through 12 for two years, before becoming an assistant professor at the University of South Carolina in Speech Pathology in 1974.
When she married her husband Rab, in 1978, Johnson City became her new home. She became a member of St. John's Episcopal Church, where she is still a member today. Summers is also a member of the Altar Guild.
Summers is known in the community as someone who will see a project through to a successful end. She was named chairperson of the Johnson City Public Library's “Imagine the Possibilities” building fund where she helped raise over one million dollars. In addition, she has been named chairperson of her church building fund called Cornerstone for the Future. During that undertaking, Summers oversaw the initial building fund campaign for a new church building.
One of her first forays into community service was serving on the board of directors for the Watauga Area Mental Health Center for six years and being named chairperson from 1985-1987. During that period, the idea of Woodridge Hospital became a reality and now provides an important service to the community. In addition, Summers has been a member of several local charities and volunteer organizations and a member of the Johnson City Junior League for more than 25 years including service as the organization's treasurer.
Currently Summers serves on several committees including East Tennessee State University 's Roan Scholars Leadership Program, the Circle of Friends committee for the International Storytelling Center , as well as serving on the Children's Advocacy Center 's board of directors.
Between her many civic and community responsibilities Summers enjoys playing golf, traveling and needlework. She and Rab are the proud parents of Lena Summers, who played soccer at ETSU from 1998-2002 and ran track from 1998-2000. Their son, Grant, graduated from Duke in 2004 and currently works in the family business–Summers-Taylor, Inc.