York Professor Emeritus Donald Clair Summerhayes dies of cancer

Donald Clair Summerhayes, professor emeritus of English, Faculty of Arts, died of cancer Nov. 8. He was 75.

Prof. Summerhayes taught at York from 1966 to 1997. He was a teacher, an author, a poet, a critic and a photographer. The author of five collections of poetry, he was the 1995 winner of the Stephen Leacock Prize for Poetry. He also wrote mystory, a collection of anecdotes and reflections based on his experiences growing up in a small town in Ontario.

Left: Professor Donald Clair Summerhayes

Several members of his family were with him at St. Joseph’s Health Centre in Toronto when he died shortly before 11pm. He was loved as a parent, a grandparent, a partner and a friend. He leaves behind his wife Merlin Homer and four children from a previous marriage: Siobhan, Christopher, Jonathan and Jennifer Hall along with his sister Anne MacFarlane. He also leaves his grandchildren Caitlin and Alicia Hall, Devin and Polly Summerhayes, and John Hall and Deborah Girvin.

"Don will be remembered as a beloved and inspiring teacher of poetry and American literature by a great many students," said Rose Crawford, assistant to the Chair, Department of English. "To his students, Don was always generous, kind and open, earning their affection and friendship."

He was a respected member of the York faculty with a deep commitment to the teaching profession. He was also active in departmental affairs throughout his career, said Crawford.

Prof. Summerhayes regularly contributed to St. Joseph’s Health Centre, The AIDS Committee of Toronto, the Scott Mission, the Toronto Symphony and an education fund for his grandchildren. Contributions can be made to any of these charities in memory of Prof. Summerhayes.

A cremation has already taken place. A memorial service will be held on Saturday, Dec. 1, at 2pm at G.H. Hogle Funeral Homes, 63 Mimico Ave., Toronto.

Online condolences may be made at www.hoglefuneralhomes.com.