| Carroll Erwin Summers, Jr.|
(South Texas rancher, entrepreneur, and philanthropist)
|Born|| September 2, 1931 |
Orangeburg, South Carolina
|Died|| December 17, 2022 (aged 91) |
|Spouse|| Evelyn Bruni Summers|
(married 1957-2022, his death)
|Religion|| United Methodist|
Carroll Erwin Summers, Jr. (September 2, 1931 – December 17, 2022), was a rancher, entrepreneur, and philanthropist in his adopted city of Laredo, Texas. In August 2022, he was named the 2023 "Mr. South Texas" by the George Washington Birthday Celebration. He is the first such honoree to die before he officially was to have received his title.
The son of Judge Carroll E. Summers, Sr., and the former Anabel Hill, he was born and reared in Orangesburg, South Carolina, where he swam in the Edisto River in preparation for being named the "Outstanding Swimmer" at The Citadel: The Military College of South Carolina, from which he graduated with a degree in civil engineering in 1954. He was an Eagle Scout and a member of the Order of the Arrow.
His service in the United States Air Force, in which he completed pilot training, brought him in 1956 to Laredo, which then had an Air Force Base that closed in 1973. He was discharged from the Air Force in 1958 but remained a captain in the reserves for another decade.
Career and civic duties
Summers was an engineer for the Texas Department of Highways but returned to Laredo after the passing of his father-in-law, Ernest M. Bruni, to assume the management over sixty years of the family ranches. He helped to establish the Laredo International Sales & Service which sold International Harvester trucks and the first Nissan vehicles in Laredo. He purchased and operated for thirty-seven years the Lare-Tex Feed & Mineral, in which capacity he became active in local 4-H Club and Future Farmers of American programs. Though he learned to speak Spanish, essential in the brush country, he never lost his southern drawl and his courteous manners.
He was also a sponsor for more than thirty years of the Border Olympics, which provides recreational opportunities for the handicapped. He was a trustee of the First United Methodist Church of Laredo and a director for forty-five years of the Webb Soil & Water Conservation in which position he worked to establish a scholarship program for students interested in the agricultural field. He served on the board of directors for three banks, South Texas National Bank, San Antonio National Bank and Vantage Bank. He was active in the former Taxpayer League which forced Webb County to implement agriculture value tax rates.
Summers was a long-time member of Laredo Rotary Club and served on the boards of the Ruth B. Cowl Rehabilitation Center board and both Ursuline and United Day schools. He was elected as trustee and president of the United Independent School District Board, which was established in 1961. In this role, the pushed for the establishment of a swimming program. He secured funding and construction of the first swimming pool for a Laredo school district. His efforts led to the naming of the UISD swimming and diving complex in his honor.
In 1979, the Laredo Morning Times named him "Man of the Year" and in 1987 he portrayed George Washington as part of the citywide Washington's Birthday Celebration, and he was recognized in 2021 by the League of United Latin American Citizens Council as "Tejano Achiever." In 1999, Summers convinced the Texas Wildlife Association to bring the first youth hunts to Webb County. He hosted these hunts at the family's ranches, La Martinena in Encinal and El Ranchito in Mirando City. He was named "Rancher of the Year" by both the Webb County Heritage Association and the Laredo International Fair and Exposition.
Death at 91
Summers was preceded in death by his parents and his son Carroll, III, who died from wounds sustained in a hunting accident at the age of fourteen. He is survived by his wife of sixty-five years, the former Evelyn Bruni Summers; his children, Shelley M. Summers and Robert H. Summers (wife Tami), and his four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. His funeral was to be held at Joe Jackson Heights Funeral Home on December 20, 2022; his obituary does not mention a place of interment.