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Robert C. Summe, naval aviator, commercial pilot

Jan. 2, 1940 – Jan. 20, 2014

Marine Col. Robert Carl Summe, a naval aviator and retired American Airlines pilot who grew up in Akron, died Jan. 20 in Jupiter, Fla., following a heart attack. He was 74.

Born in Kansas City, Mo., he became a naval aviation cadet in 1957. He received his wings and was commissioned as a Marine Corps second lieutenant in 1960.

After flying with two Marine fighter squadrons in the Far East, he became a flight instructor, was promoted to captain and was chosen to represent the Marine Corps on the Navy Blue Angels aerobatic demonstration team.

Instead, in 1965, he joined American Airlines, where he was a full-time pilot for 32 years.

He also transferred his commission to the Marine Corps Reserve and continued to fly military aircraft for 15 years. Based in Boston, Mass., for many years, he served as commander of Marine Attack Squadron 322 at Naval Air Station South in Weymouth, Mass., from 1977 to 1979. He retired in 1992 with the rank of colonel.

He flew his own Pitts aerobatic biplane in competitions and in recent years was building a replica World War I aircraft near his home in Jupiter. He also enjoyed sailing on his 42-foot sailboat, Semper Fi.

Survivors include his wife of 20 years, Gail; a son, Robert C. Jr.; a daughter, Rachael Summe-Leonard; a brother, Gerald; and two granddaughters.

A memorial service will be held in the spring.

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