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Obituary: Jan Summer


Jan Summer

On June 25, 2021 Eva Janice “Jan” Summer escaped the bodily restraints that had been so at odds with her ebullient and spirited nature, free to soar again. Jan was born February 13, 1944 in Cherryville, North Carolina but spent the rest of her life exploring the many worlds and adventures that life presented. 

A brilliant lawyer, faithful friend, loving partner and loyal family member, Jan lived her life joyfully, responsibly and with humility. Her home, whether in Austin, Houston or in the mountains of North Carolina was full of good food, music, arts and crafts, acceptance and joy. And, of course, at least one spoiled cat. From a family of builders, she seemed happiest when the smell of sawdust was in the air. It was not unusual to find Jan designing and overseeing home construction or renovation projects all resulting in colorful and imaginative dwellings.

A graduate of Wake Forest University and the University of Texas Law School, Jan spent the majority of her career in public service. She first worked in the office of North Carolina Governor Terry Sanford, joining his initiative to improve public education. The opportunity to work with this dynamic, reform minded leader had a lasting influence on Jan’s future involvement in politics and public service.

After law school, Jan served as law clerk to Chief Justice Joe Greenhill of the Supreme Court of Texas. She began her real estate practice with the law firm of Daugherty, Kuperman, Golden & Morehead in Austin. Her private practice was followed by several years with the University of Texas Office of General Counsel where her real estate skills proved invaluable in negotiating leases and managing University properties across Texas.

In 1993, Jan became the founding director of The Center for Public Policy Dispute Resolution at the University of Texas School of Law. There she mentored community leaders, aspiring arbitrators and elected officials in their roles as facilitators for consensus. She served in that capacity for 17 years, retiring in 2010.

As a founding member of the Center for Women in Law at UT, Jan played an important role in providing scholarships for aspiring young women law students. She was a contributing member of Leadership Austin and of the Women’s Political Caucus. Jan was elected by her peers to the Board of the Austin Bar Association, where she served with distinction.

Jan’s world travels started with her mother and her insatiable wanderlust continued throughout her life. Many friends and family members still enjoy sharing tales of their numerous travel adventures at home and abroad with Jan.

After her retirement, Jan’s love of handmade objects led her to enroll in many classes at Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina. She studied wood shop and drawing, but her favorite craft, working with clay, became a big part of her life. Many lucky friends hold dear the colorful and beautiful objects she created.

We wish to express our gratitude to Pin Oak Caregivers who sent Remi, Oby, Trevana and Elizabeth to care tenderly Jan as Alzheimer’s took her voice and physical agility.

She leaves behind three brothers of Cherryville North Carolina; Larry, Garry and Oren Summer and their wives, nieces and nephews, two godsons, many dear friends from across the country and her loving wife, Kay Little of Houston.

Memorial contributions in Jan’s memory may be made to:

Ann Richards School Foundation
2309 Panther Trail, Austin Texas 78704

Travis Audubon – Chaetura Canyon
3710 Cedar Street, Box 5, Austin, Texas 78705

Penland School of Crafts

Celebrations of Jan’s life have been planned in Houston, Austin, and will soon be announced in North Carolina:

Houston: Earthman Chapel
8302 Katy Freeway Houston Texas 77024
July 30th at 5:00 p.m.

Austin: Chez Zee Gallery
5406 Balcones Drive Austin, Texas 78731
September 14th at 3:00 p.m.

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