Frank Summers served as the Chief Justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court from 1979 to 1980.
Frank W. Summers, the eighteenth chief justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court, served in that capacity from January 1, 1979, to February 29, 1980. He rose to chief justice during a period marked by a rapid expansion of caseloads at all levels of the judiciary. In his “State of the Judiciary” message for 1979, Summers urged the adoption of legislation to restructure the judicial system in Louisiana, thereby transferring jurisdiction for criminal appeals from the Supreme Court to the Courts of Appeal. Summers decided to retire after only fourteen months as chief justice so that he could devote his energy to his family and their large farm and cattle ranch in Vermilion Parish.
Summers was born on September 5, 1914, to Clay R. Summers and Esther LeBlanc Summers of Abbeville, Louisiana. After receiving a public school education in Abbeville, he earned a bachelor of arts degree from Southwestern Louisiana Institute (now the University of Louisiana–Lafayette) in 1936 and a bachelor of laws degree from Tulane University Law School in 1938. In 1940, he married Beverly Miller. They had six children.
In 1938, Summers established a private law practice in Abbeville, where he worked until his career as a lawyer was interrupted by World War II. In December 1941, he entered the navy and was assigned to naval intelligence. Later he commanded an amphibious vessel in the Pacific and was discharged with the rank of lieutenant commander in November 1945.
After his discharge, Summers resumed his law practice in Abbeville until receiving an appointment as judge of the 15th Judicial District Court for Acadia, Lafayette, and Vermilion Parishes, serving from August 1952 to December 31, 1954. He returned to the general practice of law until his election as associate justice of the Supreme Court in October 1960.
In retirement he remained active in professional, civic, and veterans’ organizations. He died on January 26, 1993, at Abbeville and is buried there at St. Mary Magdalen Church Cemetery.