In Memory of Willie Thomas Summerville
Mr. Willie T. Summerville worked for the Department of African American Studies where he was the Campus and Community Affairs Specialist until his premature death on March 7, 2017. He also taught a variety of music courses to university students and members of the community. He held music workshops all over the world, attended by thousands of people and won numerous awards for his music and teaching.
Mr. Summerville graduated from the University of Illinois in 1967 with a Master’s Degree in Music Education. He played tuba with the Marching Illini. His first job was with Champaign Public Schools until 1970 when he became the Choral Music Director of the Middle School 8th Grade Chorus in Urbana Unified Schools. He was also the Director of the Urbana High School Concert Choir. He took that choir to Rome to sing at St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican in 1999. In 2002, he took the Urbana High School Choir to NYC where they sang at Riverside Church and Carnegie Hall. He was a founding member of Canaan Missionary Baptist Church and a charter member of the Deacon Board and treasurer of the Canaan Development Foundation that supports Canaan Academy located in Urbana. In 2017, he celebrated directing St. Luke’s choir for 50 years.
Mr. Summerville was born in Sunshine, Arkansas on August 17, 1944. He was the son of Moses and Lenora, the middle child of four sisters. He was married to his wife, Valerian Alexander Summerville for 48 years. He was the father of three, Derrick, Shandra and William. He loved his family more than his life. He was a grandfather of five and a great grandfather of two. Every one of them filled him with pride.
Willie Thomas Summerville lived a life of service to his family and community. The love he shared will not be forgotten, his love and faith were the gifts he gave to every one of us that he encountered. Our beloved Willie T. Summerville, may he rest in peace.
(Excerpts from Kathya Alexander)
Please view the various links listed below to learn more about the life and legacy of Willie T. Summerville.