Hattie E. Summerhill
Jul 20th 1949 - Dec 1st 2005
A strong woman with great vision for the future, Hattie E. (Talbott) Summerhill looked for ways to make the world a better place. She understood trials and suffering and had compassion for the pain of others. She spent countless hours volunteering for various organizations and always took the time to get to know the people she was working with, earning the respect and friendship of many of her peers. She encouraged her family and friends to persevere, demonstrating the ability to make the most of what she was given.
Hattie was born July 20, 1949 to Roy and Alberta Talbott. She was the youngest of eight children and because she was the baby she was spoiled by the entire household. All seven older siblings took an active role in raising her.
Hattie's schooling began at Booker T. Washington Elementary School in Louisville, Kentucky. She then lived with her sister in Ypsilanti, Michigan, for a couple of years where she attended West Junior High School. She then returned to Louisville, graduating from duPont Manual High School. After graduation she decided to go to Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, a couple of hours from home.
After two years at WKU, Hattie moved back to Ypsilanti and joined the staff at the University of Michigan, working as a "Principle Accounting Clerk" in the Department of Pharmacology. In 1982, she was promoted to Office Assistant IV. At that time, she took a brief reprieve from U of M and spent a short time back in Louisville working as a manicurist. When the time was right, she returned to Ypsilanti and in 1983 moved into an Administrative Assistant II position in the Mental Health Research Institute.
Her flexibility and work ethic made Hattie a valuable asset at the university and enabled her to adapt to a number of roles. In 1986 she joined the University Library staff as an Administrative Assistant II in Library Personnel and Payroll Services, managing the payroll process for hourly and regular employees. She was also responsible for monitoring the myriad of personnel processes, as well as the classification of Professional-Administrative and Office-Clerical staff and assisting with Staff Development activities.
Hattie served on a number of Library Committees including the Library Diversity Committee, whose mission is to promote an understanding of diversity among the library staff as well as across the campus as a whole. She also served on the Amity Program Committee and the Martin Luther King Day Committee. In the fall of 1999, Hattie was awarded the annual Library Diversity Award in recognition of her significant contributions to the University Library's Diversity Program.
In 1990, Hattie's position was reclassified to Administrative Associate I and she was made responsible for creating and managing the Library's Training Intern Program. She was involved with the Library's massive initiative to update and standardize the classification of Library staff positions through her service on the Library Classification Management Advisory Team.
Hattie's health required that she take a medical leave from the University Library in 2001. It was difficult for her to leave a job into which she had invested so much, but she did not allow her circumstances to overwhelm her or keep her from enjoying life. She recognized that her condo association with Harbour Cove Condominiums had organizational needs that she could fill. She stepped up and began serving as the secretary of the board and editor of the Harbour Cove newsletter. She also looked for ways to encourage other Harbour Cove residents to become involved in their community and was a wonderful example of volunteerism.
Hattie loved being on the move and she was often heard to say, "I've got places to go, people to see, and things to do." She enjoyed horseback riding and roller-skating, and her love of music led naturally to her enjoyment of dancing. She loved seeing new places, and her travels took her from coast to coast in the United States. She also visited Aruba, the Bahamas, and the European countries of Germany, France, Spain, Belgium, Italy and Switzerland. When she was at home, she doted on her many pets, including her dogs, Titan and Brandy. She also had one Siamese cat, Colette, and three tabby cats, Cognac, Martini, and Rossi.
Hattie was an encouragement to her family and friends as she waged a life-long battle with sickle cell disease. Often it would have been easier for her to complain or give up, but Hattie always maintained a positive outlook, a courageous spirit, and a belief in living her life to its fullest. Continuous throughout her life was the support of her entire family including her sisters-in-law and brothers-in law. Her example will continue to influence those who knew her for years to come.
Hattie is survived by her brothers, Melvin Talbott (Vivian), Gene Talbott (Julia), Leslie Talbott (Geraldine), and Clyde Talbott (Gloria); two sisters, Betty Springfield (Tony) and Mary Madison; a host of nieces, nephews, and other relatives; her former husband, John Summerhill; many co-workers, friends, and a very supportive medical community.
Hattie's family will receive friends at the Nie Life Story Funeral Home on Friday, December 9, from 6-8 p.m. and on Saturday, December 10, from noon until 1:00 p.m. A funeral service will be held at the funeral home on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. Please visit Hattie's personal memory page at www.lifestorynet.com to share a memory or, in lieu of flowers, make a memorial contribution to the National Kidney Foundation, the American Sickle Cell Anemia Association, or the Stem Cell Research Foundation Development Department.