Anita Summers Obituary – Death: American Educator and Professor of Public Policy at Penn, Anita Summers Passes Away
Anita Summers Obituary; Today, I’m honoring the life and mourning the passing of a truly exceptional woman, Anita Summers. A trailblazer, devoted wife, and loving mother of my longtime mentor Larry Summers, I had the privilege of knowing Anita for over 30 years. I will always be inspired by her tenacity and courage.
Anita pursued a career in economics at a time when very few women did. Despite significant bias and barriers, she persevered. In 1947, she was hired as an economist for the Standard Oil Company. When she accepted the job, her new boss said to her, “I ﬁgure I am getting the same brains for less money.”
Later, when her boss refused to allow Anita to join a meeting with executives—since only men were permitted in the C-Suite—she demanded to be able to present her work. Anita went on to become a renowned scholar who served on boards, advised state and local governments, and started the first public policy programme at Wharton Business School.
Through it all, she remained a deeply devoted mother and spoke publicly about how important it was for women to have the choice to work inside and outside of their homes.
Anita’s drive and brilliance had a profound impact on me; it was the greatest honour when she agreed to include her story in “Lean In.” So much of what I and the women of my generation have been able to do is because we stood on her shoulders.
Anita was an incredibly warm and welcoming person. When I was a young staffer working for Larry, she and her husband invited me to join one of their family vacations. (think about that — who gets invited by their boss’s mother to go on vacation?)
She raised three incredible sons—Larry Summers, John Summers, and Rick Summers—all of whom are as deeply kind and caring as she was. As we mourn her loss, more than anything, I’m grateful—gratitude that I had the chance to know her and to learn from her.
As we celebrate her life, I’m thinking about what Anita wrote in The Boston Globe a few years ago: “I am proud of and deeply satisfied with the feminist life I have led.” May we all strive to live up to her example. May her memory be a blessing.