Beloit College Magazine

Beloit College Magazine

Fall/Winter 2015 (November 3, 2015)

Professor of Sociology Donald “Doc” Summers

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October 27, 2015

Donald Summers (2)_BCMF15.jpg

Professor of Sociology Donald “Doc” Summers, who taught at Beloit from 1959 to 1993, passed away on Sept. 12 at age 87 in Beloit.

Known affectionately to almost everyone as “Doc,” he was an innovative teacher and gregarious colleague who devoted his life to connecting with students in the classroom and beyond. At the time he retired from teaching, he held the Brannon-Ballard Chair of Sociology. He came to Beloit from Nebraska with scholarly interests that included social theory and social psychology. In the last decade of his career, he also became interested in feminist theory.

During his tenure, Doc could regularly be seen riding around campus on a clunky old bicycle. He was a diehard sports fan and a mainstay and founder of Beloit “Noonball,” pickup basketball that started in the late 1960s and continues to this day on weekdays in the Flood Arena. The games draw mostly faculty, staff, and coaches for play over the noon hour. Summers is the only player to have had his Noonball jersey retired and displayed in the locker room.

“My dad wasn’t in Rotary Club or Kiwanis,” explained Doc’s son, Dan, in the Beloit Daily News. “His fraternity was Noonball.” Doc and his wife, Joyce, raised three children in Beloit: Dan, Sondra, and Diana, who survive him.

The family requests memorial gifts be made to two existing sociology department prizes for students: the Donald A. Summers Prize in Sociological Theory, awarded to high-achieving sociology majors, and the Joyce A. Summers Award, given to sociology majors who plan to teach elementary school or work with young people facing cultural, economic, and academic challenges.


  • November 10 2015 at 11:25 am
    W.Jerry Hisgen, MD
    My late wife, Linda, always spoke highly of Professor Summers. He was instrumental in her decision to enter the social work profession. She attributed her successes to his mentoring and often quoted from her course work. I encourage all of his past students to honor his memory by donating to the sociology department prizes mentioned in this death announcement.
  • November 10 2015 at 12:06 pm
    Todd Bothel
    From 1987-1990 I played noonball with Doc almost on a daily basis. I still marvel at his highly unorthodox and deadly accurate hip shot.

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