A Personification of Carroll University's Impact

Author: Tim Muma

Published Date: 4/9/2024

Categories: Alumni University News

Summers as a Carroll student...and at home in Texas in 2024
Louise (Treder) Summers '39 walked onto the Carroll University (then College) campus nearly 90 years ago as a naïve teenager about to become the first person in her family to attend college. That year, Amelia Earhart became the first person to fly solo from Hawaii to California, Elvis Presley had just been born and World War II wouldn’t begin for another four years.
Now Summers is approaching her 106th birthday – and though she has forgotten more world history than most of us have ever experienced – she still holds Carroll in her deepest thoughts and warmest memories.
"She has had continual, wonderful memories of Carroll," said Summer’s daughter, Mary Tesi. "As I showed her the 1939 yearbook, she loved looking at the pictures. Sometimes, she smiled with a look of remembering. Other times, she cried a bit, but that was because of sweet memories, too."
Understandably, the recollections are fewer and farther between as Summers prepares to celebrate the 85th anniversary of her graduating class this May. However, she was so entrenched in Carroll, during and long after her four-year academic journey, that she has always remained an ardent ambassador for the Carroll experience. Whether it was hosting an alumni event, returning to Waukesha for celebrations or donating nearly $100,000 to support students, Summers wants everyone to appreciate Carroll as much as she does.
"There were so many things I valued about Carroll: high-quality education, amazing friendships and dedicated professors who extended a personal interest in your lives," Summers said. "Having gone to Carroll, there is a long-lasting bond that helps maintain friendships. That was my favorite place to hang out – in each other's rooms."
But Summers did far more than "just hang out" while she was a Pioneer. First off, Summers earned membership in the Delta Sigma Nu scholastic society (top 10 percent of the senior class) and graduated with summa cum laude honors (GPA starting at 3.9). Those were accomplishments she is incredibly proud to have achieved. And still, that's a fraction of the story.
There isn't enough room to include everything she was a part of. The highlights included being president of Sigma Tau Delta, vice president for the Carroll Players and Alpha Kappa, Hinakaga's assistant editor and the Girls Octette director. She also showed off her talents in Glee Club and as a member of the Echo staff, in case you weren't already feeling worn out just reading about her enterprises.
"It's so important to stay involved, and Carroll made it easy with all the activities," Summers noted when asked about advice for current students. "And then keep in touch, participate in alumni activities and support Carroll with whatever monetary pledges you can."
Summers kept a small Carroll group together for decades to reminisce and share their lives. For Summers, that meant family connections as well. One of her closest friends from Carroll was Janet (Summers) Krause '37. Krause was the sister of Summers' future husband, Richard. More than 50 years later, another relative was influenced by Summers' passion for Carroll.
When Phillip Roberts '04 was looking for a college in 2000, Summers immediately reached out to her contacts at Carroll to make a connection. Summers was not only at Roberts' graduation ceremony but also at his wedding. All of Roberts' groomsmen were Carroll grads, and they saluted Summers with "some Carroll song or cheer" at the reception. She was 93.
In the "few" years between Roberts' reception and her own graduation, Summers raised two children, taught high school English and speech, owned a Christmas tree farm near Madison with her husband and operated a flower shop with her daughter, Mary. Not surprisingly, Summers has also served on numerous boards, volunteered, taught and directed children and adults in various activities – abiding by the Carroll Ethos and living out the Pioneer spirit that still lights a spark.
"I loved it when a Carroll rep would visit and tell me what was happening around campus," said Summers. "I would call Mary and tell her all about those visits. And I was so happy to get the yearbook from my graduating year. I was surprised and said out loud, 'they remember me!'"
It would be nearly impossible to forget someone who exhibits such heartfelt fondness for the university 85 years after graduation. Her legacy – and the impact of the people she loved at Carroll –  will last much longer. Summers purchased engraved bricks in the library plaza for herself, her sister Rudith (Treder) Sheridan '41, and her sister-in-law, Janet. However, the more significant impact will be felt through the Louise Treder Summers Endowed Scholarship Fund, which will provide financial support for English majors.
That brought the trip down memory lane full circle, back to Carroll's English department, where the Carroll devotion began. But before the conversation wrapped up, we asked Summers if she had anything she wanted to say to Carroll University.
"Tell them, 'Thank you!'"
Panoramic View of campus