Cover photo for Millard Summers's Obituary
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1945 Millard 2024

Millard Summers

March 4, 1945 — January 7, 2024


Millard Summers of Knoxville met his Lord and Savior face-to-face on Sunday, January 7, after a prolonged battle with COPD. 

He arrived in this world on March 4, 1945 in LaFollette, Tennessee to Mary and Dudley Summers.  The oldest of three boys, he attended LaFollette High School where he met the love of his life, Janet Leach.  The couple eloped at 19 and 17, beginning a marriage that lasted over 61 years. He was a member of Unity Baptist Church in Powell. In his later years when unable to attend church services, he regularly worshipped via online services.

Millard worked at Smith Hardware in LaFollette where he and Janet began their family. He then moved the family to Knoxville where he worked at Robertshaw Controls until joining Southern Railway, who sent him to Southern Technical School at Georgia Tech University.  He dearly loved his time at Southern Railway, which allowed him to use his incredible mind to create solutions to engineering and mechanical problems he encountered.  He spent 20 years with Southern/Norfolk Southern, where several coworkers became lifelong friends. He then served as the president of Southern Railway/New South Credit Union for several years.
Upon taking early retirement, he turned his sharp mind and technical expertise to owning apartment complexes. He also enjoyed his daily meetings with his Romeo Club (Retired Old Men Eating Out), aka the Liars’ Club. Millard could literally do anything. When he wanted to build a new house for his family, he built it. When he decided to put in a pool, he installed it himself; same for churches, horse barns, fences, play-sets and dollhouses for his grandchildren, and hundreds of other family and work projects.  
Millard exhibited a charm and tremendous sense of humor that drew people to him. He loved to tell tales (occasionally embellishing) and to crack jokes. He quickly made new friends and could talk to anyone about anything.  He loved to play sports in his younger days, but as his sons (Steve and Jeff) grew older he swapped playing for coaching and spectating.  He never missed a game and rarely missed a practice, enjoying both watching the boys but also keeping the other dads entertained. But he had a special place in his heart for his youngest child and only daughter, Shannon.  She brought out his soft side and he always melted in her presence.  He loved being a “girl Dad” after the early years with the boys. As much as Millard loved his children, it was his grandchildren who brought out a side that was just different.  His grandchildren could do no wrong, and he loved to spoil them with hugs, singing country music, taking them to lunch, or just dropping money on them.  He truly lived “in the moment” with his grandchildren – focusing his attention on them and making them feel truly special. It was that same ability to make people feel special and a remembrance of his humble childhood beginnings that fostered Millard’s big heart to help anyone.  Few knew and he did not seek attention, but he regularly met the needs of anyone who could use help and he generously gifted those who served others – servers, haircutters, etc. Prior to his decline in health, he loved volunteering with the Office on Aging.

The loss of his big heart and personality leaves a void in the lives of his loving wife Janet; oldest son Steve and wife Leigh Ann, son Jeff and wife Chelse, and daughter Shannon and husband Glenn Thackston; grandchildren Kristi (Cody) Hawn, Kari (Andrew) Vogel, Shea and Sam Summers, EmaLee (fiancé Nick Temple), Eliza, and Blake Thackston; and his most special great-granddaughters, Emerson Summers and Kayleigh Hawn; brother, Jim Summers (Sheila) and nephews Darren and Adam; nieces Linda Jean and Karen Summers. Brothers-in-law Elmon, Russell (Joyce) and Wayne Leach as well as numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins.

He is preceded in death by his mother and father, Mary and Dudley Summers; brother David and his wife, Sue; niece Kathy Patrick; mother-in-law and father-in-law, Emalee and Verlin Leach, and several brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law.

The family will receive friends Saturday, January 13, 2024 from 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM at Mynatt Funeral Home, Halls Chapel, with service to follow at 6:00 PM.  Due to inclement weather, graveside services have been rescheduled. Family and friends will meet by 12:45 PM Friday, January 19, 2024 at the main entrance to Greenwood Cemetery for a 1:00 PM graveside service. The Reverends Allen James and John Holland will officiate. 

The family graciously thanks all who have generously blessed us with prayer, visits, calls, notes, and food during this difficult time.  In lieu of flowers and in keeping with Millard’s generous nature, donations may be made in his memory to either St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, Tennessee, 38105 or Compassion Closet for Foster Children, 4014 Garden Drive, Knoxville, Tennessee, 37918.

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Service Schedule

Past Services


Saturday, January 13, 2024

4:00 - 6:00 pm (Eastern time)

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Funeral Service

Saturday, January 13, 2024

Starts at 6:00 pm (Eastern time)

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Graveside Service

Monday, January 15, 2024

Starts at 1:00 pm (Eastern time)

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