Willie T. Summerville

Summerville, Willie T.

Mr. Willie T. Summerville was born in Sunshine (Ashley County), Arkansas, and completed his education at the T. W. Daniel High School of Crossett, Arkansas. He graduated from Arkansas AM&N College (presently called the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff) with a B.S. Degree in Music Education. He is also a graduate of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign Campus, where he received the M.S. Degree in Music Education. He has done further study at several other major universities.

Some of his awards include: the Outstanding Young Educator Award of Champaign-Urbana, the Illinois Citizen of the Year from the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc., Outstanding Black Educator Award from Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Honorary Citizen of Fort Worth, Texas, a Special Citation from the Governor of Illinois for his work with the youth of Illinois, Public Citizen of the Year (1994) by the National Association of Social workers, 1994 Winner of the Vocational Achievement Award by the Urbana Rotary Club, 1995 Martin Luther King Award from the Champaign Human Relations Commission, a 1995 "Golden Apple Award" from WICD Channel 15 News Station for outstanding teaching, voted Outstanding Teacher of the Month by the Urbana Middle School Student Council, and a declaration of January 12, 1995 as "W.T. Summerville Day" in Champaign. In 1998, he was named by President Clinton as one of the Hometown Heroes in Education and in 1999, he was awarded the Martin Luther King Outstanding Achievement Award for the City of Urbana. Mr. Summerville received the Martin Luther King Educator Award of 2000 from Parkland College. He was also named Teacher of the Year by the Wal-Mart Corporation of Champaign. Most recently, he was awarded the Man of the Year Award from the National Council of African American Men of Champaign County.

He has been a guest clinician/director at more than 20 school district music festivals and fourteen universities. He recently lectured to prospective music educators on diversity and inclusion at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. He has conducted Gospel Music/Church Music Seminars at over 42 churches across the United States, and has performed similar duties as a guest of the U. S. Chief of Chaplains Office for the United States Air Force at home and abroad. He has been the clinician at 24 military bases throughout the United States, England, and Germany.

He was employed as Choral Music Director of the Urbana Middle School 8th Grade Chorus and was the Director of the Urbana High School Concert Choir, which was invited to sing in the St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, Italy, in 1999. In 2002, the UHS Concert Choir sang in the Carnegie Hall. The Choir also performed at the famous Riverside Church of New York City and at Dawling College of Long Island, New York. In 2003, the Choir toured the St. Louis area and performed at local high schools and the University of Missouri.

Mr. Summerville was a member of the Canaan Baptist Church Board of Deacons and treasurer of the Canaan Foundation that supports the Canaan Academy of Urbana. He was a charter member of Canaan's SWAT Team (Soul Winning Action Team). He taught the Adult Sunday School class, and he was active in other church and civic organizations throughout the Urbana-Champaign area. Mr. Summerville was also Minister of Music at the Canaan Baptist Church of Urbana, Illinois, and Director/Organist of the St. Luke CME New Life Choir in Champaign.

Mr. Summerville was been married to Mrs. Valerian A. Summerville. Together, they had three children and two wonderful grandsons.

Willie T. Summerville passed away on March 7, 2017.