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Remembering Patti Summers

Memorial to Patti Summers

On June 25, 2000, Montgomery County and the State of Pennsylvania lost one of its pioneers in the movement to bridge the gap between people with disabilities and the community. Patti Summers died at the age of 45.

For the past year, she had been struggling with a rare form of cancer, cutaneous t-cell lymphoma. Patti leaves behind two daughters, Mari Elizabeth, 23 and Keri Anne 18, and a granddaughter.

It seems most fitting that we spend a few moments to remind you just how special she really was.

Twenty-one years ago she began as a direct care staff at the Progress Program located on the grounds of Norristown State Hospital. It was there that she learned the importance of advocacy. 

Her many accomplishments include, holding the office of Regional Vice President for ARC/PA. Patti was the advocate for the ARC/Montgomery County from 1986 through 1989.

She was involved in the conception of Speaking For Ourselves, acting as the Advisor, for the Montgomery County Chapter. She was a board member of The Commonwealth Institute, as well as the Executive Director ARC/Lancaster and the Youth Adult Group.

Patti represented the State of Pennsylvania at the President’s Committee on Mental Retardation. Additionally, she sat on the Human Rights Committee’s at Pennhurst, Norristown State Hospital and Embreeville State Center. Patti also sat on a number of statewide committees.

In 1989, she was awarded Advocate of the Year by Montgomery County Office of Mental Health and Retardation.

However, if she were able, Patti would tell you that the greatest joys in her life were the birth of her two daughters. It is amazing to think she was able to juggle Girl Scout camp and coaching cheerleading at her daughter’s school, and to the countless hours she would spend trying to support individuals with disabilities. Most recently, Patti volunteered at her local church teaching CCD to children with disabilities.