Where Food, Drinks & Stories Are Shared

Robert Summitt

December 6, 1935 - January 9, 2022
Portage, MI



Thursday, February 10, 2022
3:00 PM to 7:00 PM EST
Swartz Funeral Home
1225 W. Hill Rd.
Flint, MI 48507
(810) 235-2345

Mass of Christian Burial

Friday, February 11, 2022
10:00 AM EST
St. John Vianney Catholic Church
2415 Bagley St.
Flint, MI 48504
(810) 235-1812

Visitation will begin one-hour prior at church. Burial will follow mass at Crestwood Memorial Cemetery.



At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.

American Cancer Society
P.O. Box 22478
Oklahoma City, OK 73123
(800) 227-2345
Web Site

Parkinson's Foundation
200 SE 1st St, Suite 800
Miami, FL 33131
(800) 473-4636
Web Site


Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.

1830 S. Westnedge
Kalamazoo, MI 49008
(269) 349-4961
Driving Directions
Web Site

Taylor's Florist and Gifts
215 E. Michigan Ave.
Paw Paw, MI 49079
(269) 657-6256
Driving Directions
Web Site

Life Story / Obituary


Although he accomplished so much of which to be proud, there was nothing that William “Bob” Summitt loved more than using his gifts and talents to help others. He inspired others to be their best, and he was the sort of person who was always willing to lend a helping hand or ear. Bob was a loving and devoted husband and father who was happiest when surrounded by the ones he loved most. Life will never be the same without him here, but he leaves behind a priceless collection of memories that his friends and loved ones will forever hold dear to their heart.

Bob was born on December 6, 1935 to William Fletcher and Jessie (Tilson) Summitt. He was one of three children in his family, joining his older sister, Elizabeth “Betty” Lousie, and a brother, James, who passed away as an infant. Bob was raised alongside of his sister. Bob attended Flint Northern High School and excelled in his studies. After high school he attended Flint Junior College where he received an associate in Science degree. Junior college was also where he met Nancy in a music class. Nancy would go on to become Bob’s wife and lifelong soul mate on April 2, 1956. Bob then went on to receive a full academic scholarship to the University of Michigan where he received his Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry and then went on to attend Purdue University where he received a degree of Doctor of Philosophy.

One of the things Bob was best known for was his strong work ethic. He found his passion in teaching in the Engineering department at Michigan State University. In 1974, Bob took a sabbatical from MSU and went to Wright Patterson Air Force Base where he consulted for the Air Force to help address corrosion issues on the C-141 planes. He established many relationship that took him overseas to a number of countries where he gave lectures at NATO conferences and served on an advisory board for the Navy. Bob was also an expert in the field of failure analysis and served as an expert witness in a number of lawsuits. Bob was an amazing teacher and mentor to many students and family members.

There was never anything more important to Bob than spending time with family. They were always together on the holidays, spending one day with Nancy’s side of the family and one day with his side. Bob was fond of traditions and the Summitt family had a few. The four of them would go out to dinner the day before Christmas Eve and always made sure to have a serving of black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day. Bob often introduced the kids to new foods to try, and through this simple practice the kids learned to be open to new things. Traveling was something the family enjoyed. They took many vacations around the United States. Camping and snowmobiling were some of the family activities they enjoyed. Bob especially enjoyed making stew over the campfire.

There were so many things that kept Bob busy over the years. He valued education and was extremely well read. He loved spending time in his wood working shop and making furniture for the family. He made countless pieces of furniture over the years. He also was a self-taught violin player, an excellent Bridge player, as well as a stamp and coin collector. Bob and Nancy loved traveling and visited many countries around the world including Italy, France, Turkey, England, Greece, and Mexico. Out of his many hobbies, perhaps his favorite was operating his HAM radio. After retiring from MSU and moving to their second home in Grayling, Michigan, Bob supported the annual AuSable River Canoe Marathon with the HAM radio club calling out the locations of the race participants so the officials could track participant locations along the river.

All who knew Bob would agree that he was truly extraordinary. He had an insatiable love for learning and helping others. He was compassionate, understanding and loving who was truly accepting of others no matter what. Deeply loved, he will forever be missed.

William Robert “Bob” Summitt of Portage, age 86, went to be with the Lord on January 9, 2022. Bob was preceded in death by his sister, Elizabeth (Betty) Hockin; and brother, James Summitt. Surviving are his wife, Nancy; children: Beth (David) Sandy and David Summitt; and many nieces and nephews. Cremation has taken place. Visitation will be held Thursday, February 10, 2022 from 3-7 PM at Swartz Funeral Home, 1225 W. Hill Rd., Flint. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Friday, February 11, 2022 at 10 AM with one visitation one hour prior at St. John Vianney Catholic Church, 2415 Bagley St., Flint, with burial at Crestwood Memorial Cemetery.

Visit William Robert’s webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive favorite memories, photos, and sign his guestbook. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the American Cancer Society or the Parkinson’s Foundation. Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo 269-375-2900.