Weslaco- Dr. Kenneth "Rod" Summy, 71, passed away on Saturday, June 30th, 2018. He graduated from Pine Tree High School in Longview TX in 1965 and served in the Marine Corps for the next two years, serving in the Vietnam War. After serving his country, Rod enrolled in college at Stephen F. Austin, where he met his soulmate, Laura and it was love at first sight. They wasted no time and were married six months after they met. Rod continued his education and Laura began her career teaching.
After receiving his BS degree in Biology from Stephen F. Austin University in 1973, he and Laura moved to Palestine where Rod would make a daily 45-minute commute to College Station. He graduated from Texas A&M University with his MS in Entomology in 1978, and his Ph.D. in 1983.
Rod was very bright and enjoyed research. While he was studying, he worked as a graduate research assistant and then as a Biological Technician with the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station. In 1978, he was hired by the USDA-ARS as a Research Entomologist stationed in Weslaco, where he and Laura would move and raise their two children, Andrew and Patrick.
Rod worked on several projects, studying pest issues in cotton, corn, and citrus, the use of remote sensing technology for identification and mapping of native vegetation, agricultural crops and invasive weeds, detection and monitoring of incipient pest infestations on glasshouse crops, and documenting the extent of wind- and water-caused erosion occurring within inland and coastal areas of the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas. He had over 70 publications in his years with the USDA and was very well known for his research.
In 2000, he was appointed as Assistant Professor in the Biology Department, the University of Texas-Pan American in Edinburg, and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2005. He taught 11 different courses and served as Chairman of 11 graduated student MS committees during his tenure at UTRGV. He continued extensive research and ended his career with a total of 106 publications, including a textbook titled "Effective Speaking and Writing Techniques".
Rod was an active member of the Sub Tropical Plant Society, serving as its President in 2012, and as the editor of the Subtropical Plant Science journal since 2007. He and Laura attended Grace Episcopal Church in Weslaco. He was an avid outdoorsman and enjoyed traveling and camping, but his obvious passion was research and learning.
Rod is preceded in death by his parents, Kenneth and Olga Summy.
He is survived by his loving wife of 46 years, Laura, sons Andrew Summy (Samantha) of Minnesota and Patrick Summy (Melissa) of San Antonio, sisters Marilyn Jenkins (Ike) and Suzanne Russell (Kenny), and two grandchildren
So very sorry for your loss. Rod was a man fiercely devoted to his family. May God comfort his family, especially Laura, in this time of loss. Mariya Ortiz
I never knew Dr. Summy, but heard lots of stories about him from my dad, Mike Keck. I am very sorry for the Summy Family’s loss.
Meagan Keck Gormly
Dr. Summy was my professor, my mentor, my friend. When I was a graduate student, he always made time for any questions that I had. Many times life got a little rocky, as life usually does, especially as a graduate student, but I knew that all I had to do was have a chat with Dr. Summy and things were gonna be alright. You will be missed Dr Summy. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom. My condolences to the Summy family.
Shocked, to hear the passing of Dr. Summy. Please accept my heart felt condolences.
It's a funny interesting story of my first meeting with Dr. Summy. To cut short the long story, I want to to say, he is a(was a) great positive human I ever met.
Rod was a wonderful colleague and friend. My condolences to his family.
One of the many things that I appreciated about Rod was how much of a fierce advocate he was for students -- he always put students first. He wrote a book for students in Biology based on his experiences teaching Biological Writing/Biological Communications and established an endowment for graduate students. He generously donated all of the book's proceeds to the endowment, which continues to support students. The endowment is one of Rod's lasting legacies at the university and a fitting example of his generosity, kindness, and commitment to the institution and the region.
Rod was one of the first people I connected with when I started at UTPA/UTRGV in 2014. We shared many stories about the Marines and our service experiences. Our lunchtime chats were always exciting, and I was sad to see him retire last year. His passing makes me even sadder, and I offer my profound sympathies to his family. He was a fun, nice, down-to-earth person, and I will think of him every time I celebrate November 10th. Semper Fi, my friend. John
Rod was a good friend, colleague and entomologist. His work on cotton, notably outbreaks of beet armyworm, were admired by his peers. He was a faithful supporter of the Subtropical Agriculture and Environments Society and journal. We sure enjoyed seeing him at the annual meetings. We will really miss Rod, special condolences to his family from his fellow entomologists in the Rio Grande Valley. John A. Goolsby, Ph.D.
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