ORANGEBURG -- Jacob West Summers Jr., AIA, loving husband of Freda Stokes Summers, joined his beloved grandson, Jacob West Summers IV, deceased family and friends in eternal life Wednesday, June 12 2019.
He was a gifted and noted architect, community leader and philanthropist. West was known for his integrity, kindness, friendships and the ability to tell wonderful stories.
Funeral services will be held at noon Friday, June 14, at the Church of the Redeemer, 1606 Russell St., Orangeburg. Graveside services will be held in Memorial Park Cemetery, with a reception to follow at Orangeburg Country Club.
West was the son of Jacob West Summers Sr. and Claudia Mewbourne Summers. He was born June 1, 1934, in Orangeburg. He was surrounded by a large and loving family, including his cousin Tom, who was like a brother to West throughout his life. His aunt, Anabel, was like a second mother. He spent his youth playing sports with many friends and beloved cousins. Endless hours were spent diving off the Edisto bridge and swimming in the Edisto River while he pretended to be Tarzan. He attended Ellis Avenue Grammar School and graduated from Orangeburg High School in 1952. West was a three-sport varsity letterman (football, basketball and baseball) and was co-captain of the football team. He could still name the players of the team and their positions. West also played American Legion baseball for Post 4. He was selected to attend Boys State but declined due to financial responsibilities. While in school, West was employed at Fink's and Limehouse men's stores. At 16, he joined his future father-in-law (unbeknownst to either of them at the time) in bridge construction in South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia. His future in-laws, Mary and Sidney, were best friends to West.
West received an Air Force ROTC scholarship and graduated from Clemson College in 1956, earning a degree in architectural engineering. He studied both architecture and civil engineering. West loved being a Tiger! He was a four-year letterman in swimming, where he set records and won hard-earned medals. Prior to entering the U.S. Navy's Officer Candidate School in Newport Rhode Island, West worked briefly for Boeing. He served as a lieutenant (junior grade) and gunnery officer aboard the USS Thomas J. Gary (DE-326) along with his new best friend and future brother-in-law, John Masaschi. West patrolled Cuba and the North Atlantic. West said his time serving in the Navy was one of his greatest experiences, and he drew upon his training throughout his life, including when he assisted in rearing his children.
During his time in the Navy, he married "the most beautiful woman in the world," his adored wife of 59 years, Freda. They married in 1959. West had been in love with Freda since she was a senior in high school. They had an incredible love story and partnership.
After the Navy, West returned to South Carolina to practice architecture, first working in Florence with Baker and Gill, and then in Columbia with LaFaye, LaFaye. Later he returned to Orangeburg, where he and Freda restored a family home, "The Big Yellow House." Before the restoration, cousins called it the "big haunted house." His in-laws called it " the big mistake." Fortunately, the restoration was a great success and the ghosts remained in residence.
Soon after this move home, West established his own architectural firm, Summers and Associates, AIA, a successful commercial and residential architectural firm. West and his firm designed buildings and homes and managed projects throughout South Carolina. West recently renewed his architectural license at 85. He designed many lovely residences. Commercially, he was most proud of Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School, South State Bank building (Orangeburg), the Orangeburg County Chamber of Commerce, Stevens Auditorium, Orangeburg City Council chambers, Orangeburg County Courthouse renovations and many schools and churches. His final project was the remodeling of Orangeburg Country Club, one of his most enjoyable projects.
West was devoted to the Church of the Redeemer, a "cradle-to-the-grave" Episcopalian. He attended Camp St. Christopher many times as a camper and counselor, making lifelong friends. He served his church in many capacities, most rewarding was serving on the vestry.
West loved history and was president of the Orangeburg Historical Society. He served on numerous boards and was a former president of Orangeburg Country Club; Rotary Club, where he was a Paul Harris Fellow; and Thalian Club. West was a member of the AIA, the Society of the High Hills of the Santee, The Corsairs, Lobster Club and the Charleston Romeos. He was so grateful for those many dear friendships. While a lover of all sports, he was a passionate student of golf and baseball and loved his golf partners and their Wednesday morning blitz. West was a raconteur, retelling some of his stories several times. He cherished his times at the "Store" with his friends, where the tall tales would go on and on. He loved South Carolina and the community of Orangeburg. He wanted the best for his city.
Including his beloved wife, Freda Stokes Summers, he is survived by son Jacob West Summers III and daughter-in-law Liz of Columbia; daughter Sidney Elizabeth Summers Carson and son-in-law Charles of Columbia; son Saye Stokes Summers and daughter-in-law Jan of Orangeburg; two grandsons, Robert Summers of Greenville and Charlie Carson of Columbia; two beautiful and bossy older sisters, Claudia Ann Jenkins of Mount Pleasant and Susan Masaschi of Greenville; and many wonderful nephews, nieces cousins and dear friends. He was predeceased by his parents and a grandson, J. West Summers IV.
The family is grateful for the love, friendship and support West received over the years. "A beautiful man, a wonderful life! Thanks be to God!"
The family suggests memorials be made to the Church of the Redeemer, P.O. Drawer Orangeburg, SC 29116; to the Orangeburg-Calhoun Free Medical Clinic, P.O. Box 505, Orangeburg, SC 29116; to the J. West Summers IV Scholarship of the Kappa Alpha Order, 115 Liberty Hill, Lexington, VA 24450; or to Clemson Forever, P.O. Box 1889 Clemson, SC 29633.