"Ultimate elder statesman” passes away

"Ultimate elder statesman” passes away

Ace Insurance Australia chairman Michael Summers passed away on Saturday 6 July.

Summers was one of the longest serving members of American Reinsurance and more recently was chairman of the board of directors of Ace Insurance Limited in Australia, and an independent director on the board of Combined Life Insurance Company of Australia.

After four decades in the insurance industry as an accountant and a chief financial officer, he developed strong leadership skills and a solid reputation which saw him and his wife Merrelyn relocate to the US for a number of years to manage a global finance project.

But he is likely to be most remembered for his passion for causes outside of work.

Summers was a member and director of the Australian Association of Insurance Accountants (AAIA), and was appointed CEO of the association in the 2000s, which at that point had become the Financial Services Accountants Association (FSAA).  He was also renowned for his love of vintage cars.

His close colleague and friend, Neil Spettigue, chief risk officer – Ace Insurance (Asia Pacific), recalled the first time he met Michael.

“I first met Michael in 1984 when American Re occupied the same building as Ace Insurance in O’Connell Street, Sydney. He was driving his vintage car to the basement like a proud father. We became close friends and colleagues, particularly in the 90s, working together as volunteers at the AAIA.

 “There were so many fun, memorable occasions involving a few drinks and celebrations of success. Mike was a born leader and forever commanded respect. He was humble, calm on all occasions, unruffled and very structured in his thinking. As the years past, he became a great mentor and the ultimate elder statesman.”

Summers was appointed to the board of directors of Ace Insurance. He became chairman and sat on all board committees at various times. Summers took his role as an independent director very seriously and often would drill down into issues and would not let up until satisfied.

His fellow director at ACE, Neil Spettigue said: “Besides being the inquisitive director, a person who would call a spade a spade, Michael was a real character. Often just before the start of a directors’ meeting, we would all get updated on his farm at Bowral – which bull performed well, or how many calves had been delivered. Then at lunch break it would be about Triumphs and car restoration and then more calf deliveries.”

“With Michael, you had a friend for life,” an Ace spokesman added. “He will be remembered with great respect and will be sorely missed by those who knew him well.”

Summers is survived by his wife Merrelyn and two children Jodie and Tarren.