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     Vance Sherrill Summerlin, Jr.

A Eulogy



I first met Vance Summerlin in the early 1970s when he, his wife Peggy, and their four children, Laura, Stephen, Melissa, and Kelly, began attending the Little Church On The Lane, a Moravian Church in Charlotte.  Vance and Peggy joined a Sunday School Class taught by my wife, Mary Lynn.  I soon recognized that Vance was a highly intelligent man with an irrepressible spirit, an unremitting willingness to speak his mind, and a deep sense of social justice.

 Reared in the working class Wilmore neighborhood of Charlotte,  Vance had to become tough in order to survive.  His nickname at Charlotte Central High School was "Spike," and he honed his skills as a boxer.  He later served in Korea with the United States Army.  Beneath his combative exterior, however, Vance had a sensitive, artistic temperament.  He told me how he loved to listen to classical opera on the radio every Saturday afternoon.  Vance was a superb vocalist. For  years I stood next to him in the choir at church and marveled at his rich, tenor voice.  Vance's performances were enthralling, electrifying.  Vance truly had a God-given talent to sing.

 Vance was passionately interested in intellectual pursuits.  He was an avid reader and was well-versed in a broad spectrum of topics, especially history, world affairs, and metaphysics.   He knew the Bible well and could quote many passages by heart.  In matters spiritual Vance was a seeker.  His mind was always searching for proof.  Vance was a consummate question asker.    Sometimes his readiness to speak his mind forthrightly and boldly might shock those who had another opinion.  But Vance was always willing to listen to and consider another person's viewpoint.  He simply enjoyed the marketplace of ideas and wanted to "mix it up;"  and  Vance understood that we never learn anything new from someone with whom we totally agree.

 Vance was essentially a child of the Enlightenment.  He would often express to me his disappointments about the immoral and unkind actions of humanity.  Vance cried out against cruelty, prejudice, fanaticism, and blind submission to authority.  At heart Vance was an incredibly kind man who desperately wished for a fundamental improvement in the human condition.

Vance was a salesman and was, therefore, genuinely interested in people.  He had a close, personal relationship with Mr. Berol, his principal and long-time employer.  He also talked to me about his co-workers at Bank of America, Belks, and at the many other places he worked.  But Vance spoke most movingly to me about his four children.  He loved them deeply and wished only the best for all of them.

Vance's heart was old, but his mind was young.  Vance was a truly fascinating human being.  He was never boring.  Would that the world had more people like Vance Sherrill Summerlin, Jr.  Vance has gone to the other side of the river, and I look forward to meeting him there one day so we can pick up where we left off the last time we spoke.  Goodbye dear friend.  Your spirit is finally at rest.

Dr. Dan L. Morrill

September 20, 2004



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