Eric J. Summons (1943-2019)

Psychologist focused on employment development.

By Mark Zaborney / The Blade
Thu, 10 Oct 2019 04:00:00 GMT

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Eric J. Summons, 75, a psychologist focused on the workplace, who helped employers find professionals to match their needs, and professionals find careers to match their skill and hold their interest, died Monday at the University of Michigan Medical Center, Ann Arbor.

He had been treated for a gastroesophageal tumor and developed respiratory distress, his wife, Olivia Summons, said.

He’d been working from his Sylvania Township home since early 2018.

“He was never officially retired. He slowed down,” his wife said. “He loved to work.

“He was an academic and very cerebral. He was a quiet man,” his wife said. “He was very analytical. He liked to take complex issues and simplify them.”

Mr. Summons’ clients were well-known local businesses and organizations. He offered employment evaluation and executive development and helped resolve workplace conflicts and build teamwork.

“Eric had a way to process challenges in unique ways to find the ultimate best solution,” said Brad Toft, president and chief executive of the YMCA of Greater Toledo. Mr. Summons, a Y trustee for life and a former board chairman, helped coach the organization’s executives.

“He was a brilliant man,” Mr. Toft said. “He was compassionate and supportive.”

Mr. Summons helped young people with career planning — and assessed prospects for the mid-career weary. He might outline areas of interest compared with areas suited to a worker’s personality.

He would not tell a client what decision to make, he told The Blade in 1986.

“We tell you two things: first, what you might consider for a career, and secondly if it is achievable,” Mr. Summons said then. “For many people, there is a great difference between what you are good at and what you are interested in.”

Mr. Summons was a former president of the Toledo Rotary Club. He served on the advisory board of the University of Toledo’s college of engineering. Through the college of business and innovation, he was a former “Edwin Dodd distinguished lecturer,” named for the late Owens-Illinois Inc. chairman and chief executive.

He was born Dec. 27, 1943, in Orange, N.J., to Gretel and Dr. Howard Summons and grew up in Reading, Pa. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Franklin & Marshall College, he enlisted in the Army. He attended officer candidate school and served in Vietnam during the war. He received a Bronze Star. He retired from the Army Reserve as a lieutenant colonel.

He continued his studies in psychology at Villanova University, from which he received a master’s degree, and at UT, from which he received a doctorate.

He was formerly married to Pamela Summons.

Surviving are his wife, Olivia Summons, whom he married Dec. 27, 1995; daughters, Mary Summons and Sarah Summons; stepdaughters, Nina Habib Borders and Lisa Habib Millewich; stepson, John Habib; brother, Richard Summons, and three step-grandchildren.

Visitation will be from 4-8 p.m. Friday at Walker Funeral Home, Sylvania Township. Memorial services will begin at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at First Unitarian Church of Toledo.

The family suggests tributes to YMCA of Greater Toledo, the Toledo Rotary Foundation, Toledo Symphony, UM Frankel Cardio-Vascular Center, or a charity of the donor’s choice.