Gradye Brooke Summerour
1889 - 1972
Gradye Brooke Summerour was born in Milton County, Georgia, and died in Norcross, Georgia. She was one of the first diploma graduates in music from Southern Training School, now Southern Adventist University, and the first music teacher to serve there for an extended period.
Brooke initially completed a diploma in stenography in 1907. Hired to teach at STS that fall, she completed the program in music while teaching that year, and then left to work in the Georgia Conference, where she also studied music at the Atlanta Conservatory. Upon graduating from there in 1910, she returned to STS to teach both stenography and music. As the next school year started, however, she taught only music. The board, pleased with her work, voted unanimously to rehire her for the next year, but Brooke declined because she, like other faculty in those years, had not been able to teach for extended lengths of time, due to illness caused by poor working conditions.
She did return two years later, in 1914, to teach and then left as the year ended to attend Washington Missionary College, now Washington Adventist University, where she completed a bachelor's degree in music two years later. While she was away at WMC, Southern Training School moved from Graysville, Tennessee, to Collegedale and was renamed Southern Junior College.
Brooke was hired to teach music at SJC when she graduated from WMC, but left after one year to marry Ben F. Summerour, who at that time was not an Adventist, in 1918. They would become major benefactors to Southern in future years and a building on campus is now named for them.
Sources: Based on information in The Story of Southern College 1892-1992: A Century of Challenge, 41; interview with her daughter, Jane Summerour Ralls, 2007. Ralls pursued a career in music, teaching at WMC from 1952 to 1959 and in the Fairfax County, Virginia school system from 1972 to 1988.