RIT mourns the loss of Trustee Emeritus John “Dutch” Summers

John “Dutch” Summers pictured at a 2016 reception after receiving RIT’s Nathaniel Rochester Society Award, presented annually to an individual or individuals determined to have contributed to the overall advancement of the university at the highest level.

RIT is mourning the loss of Trustee Emeritus John “Dutch” Summers, who died April 7.

A longstanding figure in the Greater Rochester community, Mr. Summers was widely known as both a business icon and philanthropist—oftentimes anonymously—whose impact transformed the lives of those who benefited from his generosity, including scores of RIT students.

“Dutch was a giant of a man with a big heart to match,” said RIT President David Munson. “He will be sorely missed by the RIT community and so many beyond.”

“Dutch quietly and generously supported hundreds of RIT students over the duration of his long relationship with RIT,” added Phil Castleberry, vice president, University Advancement. “His legacy and impact will last for many generations to come.”

Mr. Summers managed Graywood Companies, a Rochester-based holding company managing residential and commercial real estate. For decades, he also served as CEO of Jasco Tools Inc., a global provider of standard and specialty cutting tools, custom components, and heat treatment services. He was the third employee at Jasco Tools, which was founded by his father in 1951. Mr. Summers began running the company in his 20s and grew Jasco Tools into a holding company overseeing four businesses—one of which became the largest tool-and-die manufacturer in Rochester. In 2014, Jasco Tools was acquired by Michigan-based Arch Global Precision LLC.

The former co-owner of the Strathallan Hotel in Rochester’s East End district, he was co-founder of the Rump Group, a nonprofit business collective that was absorbed into the Rochester Business Alliance, now part of the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce. He also was the founder and president of the John and Jayne Summers Foundation, which was created to support educational, health, and human services organizations.

In addition to RIT, Mr. Summers served on the board of directors of the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce and was inducted into the Rochester Business Hall of Fame in 2010. 

He also provided support for The Construct@RIT—a lab space where students can design and build nearly anything they can imagine, independent of a department, with students involved in its management. The pivotal support from Mr. Summers for this original campus makerspace helped with its important progression, and it soon will be part of RIT’s Student Hall for Exploration and Development (SHED), centralizing the university’s maker community under one roof when it opens in the fall semester.

He was appointed to RIT’s Board of Trustees in 1996 and became a trustee emeritus in 2010. He was involved in numerous RIT boards and committees, including the Kate Gleason College of Engineering Strategic Planning Advisory Board and the Center for Integrated Manufacturing

Studies’ Advisory Board. He generously supported RIT, with a special focus on scholarship funding for students.

In 2016, Summers and his late wife, Sandy Parker, who also was a member of RIT's Board of Trustees, received RIT’s Nathaniel Rochester Society Award, presented annually to an individual or individuals determined to have contributed to the overall advancement of the university at the highest level.

Mr. Summers was the 2018 recipient of the Herbert W. Vanden Brul Entrepreneurial Award, presented by Saunders College of Business at RIT. The award is given annually to entrepreneurial leaders who developed a business that improved the Rochester economy or whose innovative management skills changed the course of an existing business.

Mr. Summers is survived by his children: Jeff Summers (Sherry); Doug Summers (Harold Willson); Todd Summers (Cassandra); Andrew Holland (Janet); Susan Conrado (Ron); Kenny Holland (Laura); grandchildren Corey Summers and Austin Summers; sisters-in-law Susie Summers and Kathy Summers, and his dear longtime friends Tina Bianca, Mike Weed (Dawn), and Ken Marvald (Kelley DeMonte).

The RIT flag will be lowered in honor of Mr. Summers at a later date.