Carroll Erwin Summers, Jr. Posthumously Honored at Mr. South Texas Luncheon Hosted by Texas Community Bank
LAREDO, TX — The Washington’s Birthday Celebration Association (WBCA) gathered to posthumously commemorate Carroll Erwin Summers, Jr. as the 2023 Mr. South Texas Award Honoree for the 125th Washington’s Birthday Celebration Saturday, January 7th at the Laredo Country Club during the Mr. South Texas Luncheon Hosted by Texas Community Bank (TCB).
“Carrol Erwin Summers, Jr. was truly one of Laredo’s unsung heroes, a man who has done many great things for our community, usually behind the scenes and always with a selfless nature. He was a great asset to Laredo and South Texas and certainly more than worthy of the Mr. South Texas title. He will be sorely missed,” said D. Matthew Gibson, WBCA President.
The Mr. South Texas designation is presented to a deserving individual who has made a significant and lasting contribution to the growth and development of Laredo and the South Texas region. The event is sponsored and hosted by TCB.
“Texas Community Bank is pleased to sponsor the Mr. South Texas Luncheon and we congratulate Mr. Summers for being selected as the 2023 Mr. South Texas Honoree as part of the 125th Celebration,” said Douglas G. Macdonald, President & CEO of TCB. “It is a well-deserved recognition and congratulations to the Summers family.”
The Mr. South Texas Selection Committee, comprised of past presidents of the WBCA and former Mr. South Texas recipients who reside in Laredo, meet and discuss possible candidates. Committee members take great effort in creating an all-inclusive nominating pool of candidates from all walks of life who have made a significant impact on the area.
“I am honored, and I am humbled. And I would not be here today without all the love and support of my wife of almost 64 years, Evelyn.” said Mr. Summers, when he first learned of his selection. “Looking at the list of past recipients, I realize that I am way out of my class, and I will try my best not to embarrass them by having my name added to this list – but at the age of 90, I don’t have much time left with which to do so. So, with a grateful heart, I offer thanks to the selection committee for all they do to bring light to Laredo and the Washington’s Birthday Celebration.”
Carroll Erwin Summers, Jr. † (9/2/31 – 12/17/22) was born in Orangeburg, South Carolina to Anabel Hill Summers and Judge Carroll E. Summers. Carroll Jr. was an Eagle Scout and member of the Order of the Arrow. He graduated in 1954 from The Citadel Military College in South Carolina with a degree in civil engineering. At The Citadel he was a four-year letterman on the Citadel swim team.
Following college, Carroll entered the U.S. Air Force and went through pilot training and trained as an instructor pilot. He was then stationed at Laredo AFB 1956 as an instructor pilot. It was in Laredo that he experienced the high point of his life in meeting and marrying “the wind beneath [his] wings,” Evelyn Bruni. Carroll was discharged from active duty in 1958 and served as a captain in the reserves until 1968. He worked with the Texas Department of Highways as an engineer and returned to Laredo after the passing of his father-in-law, Ernest M. Bruni. It was then that he started managing the family ranches which he did successfully for 60 years. He also worked with Border Road Construction Company and helped set up Laredo International Sales & Service. He then bought into Lare-Tex Feed & Mineral which he continued for 37 years, staying very active and involved in local 4-H and FFA programs. He acquired a second language and a love for the South Texas brush country but he never lost his southern drawl and his well-bred manners.
Carroll was active in the Border Olympics for over 30 years, serving as president for two years; a bank director for over 35 years; a trustee of the United Methodist Church (37 years); and a Director of Webb Soil & Water Conservation (45 years) where he helped establish a scholarship program for students interested in the agricultural field. He was active in the Taxpayer League which forced Webb County to put in open space and implement agriculture value tax rates. Carroll was a long-time member of Laredo Rotary Club, served on the Ruth B. Cowl Rehabilitation Center board and served on the boards of both Ursuline and United Day Schools. Carroll was then elected as trustee and president of the United Independent School Board where he was instrumental in establishing a swimming program to teach swimming, life-saving and for general community use. He secured funding and construction of the first swimming pool for a Laredo school district. In this vein, he worked with the AAU age group swimming program and was the meet director for five years. Carroll was recognized for his efforts recently as the UISD swimming complex was dedicated in his honor. Carroll, a previous scout, was active in Laredo scouting for years and was honored in 2019 for his dedication. In 1979, the Laredo Morning Times honored him as Man of the Year and in 1987 he portrayed George Washington as part of the citywide Washington’s Birthday Celebration. He was also recognized by the LULAC Council #12 as Tejano Achiever in 2021.
Carroll’s work with the Texas Wildlife Association brought the first Texas Youth hunts to Webb County in 1999. He sponsored and hosted these hunts at the family’s ranches, La Martineña in Encinal and El Ranchito in Mirando City. In this vein, Carroll has been honored with the Cola Blanca Wildlife Management Award, Webb County Heritage Rancher of the Year, L.I.F.E.’s Rancher of the Year, and WSCD’s Wildlife and Conservation Rancher-Businessman and Lifetime Achievement Awards.
Following the death of his son, Carroll III, Carroll Jr. along with his wife Evelyn created an educational endowment at Laredo Junior College (now Laredo College) for Webb and Zapata County students pursuing nursing studies. The selection criteria is based on need, not necessarily grade point average. Another endowment in Carroll III’s name was established at Texas A&M International University assisting students studying nursing, teacher education and STEM. The family has created seven endowments to date at TAMIU. Most recently, through the Laredo Area Community Foundation, Carroll and Evelyn set up an outreach endowment which benefits local charities. All three programs are still active and viable today, having assisted many students in furthering their education each year. It was their hope that what they have tried to do will be an example to others. Education is indeed the foundation for success. Carroll’s daily focus was indeed on the needs of others.
“Evelyn and I realized a long time ago that this town and this community was worth investing in,” Summers once said. “We have invested and we have been rewarded many times over. Our traditional prayer asks that we keep in mind the needs of others. We ask this today and always, God bless Laredo. And God Bless the United States of America.”
In celebration of his life and legacy, the Summers family announced Saturday, they planned to start a “Carroll E. Summers, Jr. Mr. South Texas Endowment Fund” for students pursuing a degree in nursing at Laredo College. Robert Summers added that the Summers family had decided to donate to this fund and Laredo College had agreed to match those funds. He encouraged everyone to donate.
Family: Carroll was married to Evelyn Bruni Summers. He had three children, Shelley M. Summers, Carroll E. Summers III † and Robert H. Summers (Tami); four grandchildren, Evelyn Sames Garcia (Hector), Courtney Sames Weynand (Myles), Carroll E. Summers IV, and Bailey H. Summers; and three great-grandchildren,
Together with the Mr. South Texas designation, Summers became an official WBCA Ambassador for 2023 and earns an extra bar (his second) on his Caballeros Medallion from the Caballeros de la República del Rio Grande, a select group of national and international distinguished men and women who are honored for their dedication and countless hours of service and support to the Washington’s Birthday Celebration. The special ceremony honoring Mr. Summers posthumously with the extra bar will be held at the Caballeros Cocktail Party on Friday, February 17, 2023.
The Mr. South Texas Luncheon Hosted by Texas Community Bank is one of more than 32 events in the Washington’s Birthday Celebration Calendar. Throughout the years, the Celebration has grown to be over a month long and consists of parades, dazzling pageants, fireworks, a carnival, an air show, a sizzling jalapeño festival and much more.