Archived Story

Former mayor remembered for his kindness and grace

Published 6:16am Sunday, February 10, 2013

A former Albert Lea mayor is being remembered for his good-natured personality and his role in helping the city move forward after turmoil.

Aaron Summers, 72, died Wednesday in Sun City, Ariz., surrounded by family.

Summers served as mayor in 1985 and 1986 and from June 2005 through 2006.

Aaron Summers

“He was just a great man,” said current Albert Lea Mayor Vern Rasmussen, who served on the City Council with Summers in 2005 and 2006. “He really cared about our community, and he put a lot of effort and time into making sure we could move forward.”

The Albert Lea City Council appointed Summers as mayor in 2005 after former Mayor Jean Eaton was charged with defrauding a retail clothing store through a price tag switch scam.

“He showed extreme grace in doing that and bringing the council into more of what I thought was a grace position,” said former Community Development Director Bob Graham. “He wanted to bring honor to the community at a time we weren’t seeing the type of honor we hoped for.”

Graham said he will remember Summers as being even-tempered and supportive.

“He was a good man, that’s why we appointed him the second time around,” said former 5th Ward City Councilor John Severtson. “He seemed dedicated to getting the job done.

Severtson worked with Summers on the council during both terms, and he described Summers as a person who could get along with anybody.

“He didn’t seem to be above anybody, and he didn’t try to push his weight on anybody,” Severtson said. “He stepped up when we needed him to fill the spot.”

Graham said every time he would see Summers in City Hall or in the public he would smile.

“He was such a pleasant and kind person,” Graham said. “I enjoyed working under his direction. You could just feel the easing of things.”

Rasmussen said he, too, noticed that Summers had the ability to work easily with people.

“He had a way about him,” Rasmussen said. “It didn’t matter if he was on one side or the other. He had the ability to make sure he could work with both sides. He really exemplified what being a mayor is all about.”

Former Mayor Randy Erdman, who was also on the City Council during Summers’ second mayoral term, said Summers provided stability for the city.

Summers had lived in Albert Lea since 1975 but has traveled to Arizona for the winters in the past few years.

Aside from his role as mayor, he worked as vice president in charge of manufacturing at Ventura Foods.

He was a member of many service clubs and organizations, including Kiwanis, the Eagles, the Elks and the Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce, among others.

He and his wife, Helene, had three children and six grandchildren.

“He absolutely loved Albert Lea,” said one of his daughters, Debra Summers. “He had great plans for growing the commerce and bringing new business into town. He just really loved Albert Lea and the people of Albert Lea.”

Debra said a memorial service was held in a park this week in Sun City, where several of the family’s Albert Lea friends also go during the winter. A memorial service will be in Albert Lea at a later date.

“He is a wonderful man, and we’re going to miss him a lot,” she said.

See Summers’ obituary on Page 3.