Jo Summit (1933-2017)
The NCA sadly announces the passing of Jo Summit, one of our founders. Jo had been declining for several years and died on September 22, 2017, eight days after she and her husband Rol graciously welcomed members of the National Carousel Association to their home to enjoy their amazing collection of carousel figures. Jo was 84.
Jo had a life-long love of horses—both living and hand carved. Her favorite childhood carousel was the great Looff machine at the Pike in Long Beach, CA, until it was tragically lost to fire when Jo was ten. Rol's gift of a small German carousel horse for their 2nd wedding anniversary started Jo on a quest to learn everything that she could about the styles and makers of carousels. And it was the beginning of what very quickly would become a large menagerie of very select figures. Jo and Rol felt that M.C. Illions was the greatest of the American carousel carvers. In their search to learn more about Illions, they became close friends with Rudy and Barney Illions, two of M.C. Illions' sons, and with their families.
Jo and Rol Summit were two of the key founders of the NCA. Jo took on all of the administrative work to organize the first meeting and was our first Vice President and second President. Jo led the NCA during a very turbulent time as we worked through what it meant to "promote conservation, appreciation, knowledge and enjoyment of the art of the classic wooden carousel, and especially the preservation of complete operating carousels" as stated in the NCA by-laws that were written during her presidency.
As important as Jo was as a leader of the NCA, she was happiest when she was restoring a great carving to its original beauty or when she was sharing her depth of knowledge about the different carvers. She always graciously welcomed new people into the fold and was immensely generous with her insights for identifying individual figures.