Summerside is an LCS Distinguished Alumni recipient

Monday, May 5, 2014
(Sentinel photo by Beverly Van Buskirk) Paul Summerside, a 1976 graduate of Le Mars Community High School, was honored as an LCSD Distinguished Alumni Award for 2014 at last Wednesday's LCSD Foundation Banquet. The annual LCSD Distinguished Alumni Award is co-sponsored by the LCSD Foundation and the LCS Alumni Association. He was presented with a bulldog statue. To purchase this photo log on to

Editor's Note: This is the first of two stories about Distinguished Alumni Awards presented by the Le Mars Community School District Alumni Association.

LE MARS -- A 1976 graduate of Le Mars Community High School, Dr. Paul Summerside, is one of two honored with the 2014 Distinguished Alumni Award.

The award was presented at the Le Mars Community Schools Foundation Banquet Wednesday, by the Le Mars Community School District Alumni Association board member Julie Beitelspacher.

The alumni association was established in 1993, with a mission to establish a database of graduates of Le Mars Community Schools, and to award scholarships to graduating seniors of LCHS through the proceeds of membership dollars and memorials.

"I thought it was a great honor," said Summerside. "There's no better honor than to be called outstanding by your home community."

Summerside was nominated for the honor by his father, Frank ,of Le Mars.

Summerside has been practicing medicine since 1988 and is an ER physician in DePere, Wis., at the Aurora BayCare Medical Center.

He is the chief medical officer and one of the founding partners of BayCare Clinic and serves as chairman of the board of the Aurora BayCare Medical Center, according to a press release.

Summerside has been on the DePere School District Board of Education for the past 10 years, the last seven as president.

He has been active in coaching a variety of youth sports, including basketball and baseball.

His love of golf led him to develop and manage the construction of the Green Bay Country Club of which he has served as vice president for the past 18 years.

Sponsoring and hosting American Field Service students over the past 10 years is also important to Summerside and his family, a press release stated.

Summerside reflected on his years at Le Mars Community Schools.

"I was not an easy student," Summerside said.

Contrarian and strong-willed are a couple of ways he describes himself at that time.

"My teachers saw past the difficulty I presented and saw the potential," Summerside said.

He cites his sixth grade teacher, Mary Ellen Keegan, as one who saw him as fun, especially his interest in science.

In seventh grade, Summerside said science teacher Tom Bohan influenced him greatly.

"With Mr. Bohan, you could do as much or little as you wanted," Summerside said. "The material was low level to graduate level. His approach with me was no boundaries, but continue to challenge."

For Summerside, it was never about the grade, it was something more to learn, he said.

Bohan opened the school at 6 a.m., and Summerside often rode his bike to school to go to the room Bohan provided for students to progress at their own pace.

Summerside even became a tutor for other students.

During his junior high years, he often got "pink passes" to go to the science lab.

"I'd get done with my other school work and go back to the science lab," Summerside said.

Bohan was also advisor for the junior high year book, and soon Summerside was working in the dark room and doing photography.

"In retrospect, it was very unusual," Summerside said of his junior high experience. "Mr. Bohan was very innovative with technology for that time."

After seventh grade, Summerside was teaching at Camp Quest, a summer camp directed by Bohan.

"I did that for several summers," Summerside said.

His high school years offered Summerside an opportunity to participate in a variety of activities.

That included athletics, band, choir, and numerous clubs.

"If you have talent, get involved," Summerside said. "A community thrives to the extent that everyone participates and gives of their talents."

Summerside graduated from St. Olaf College, in Northfield, Minn., with a pre-med degree, after starting college as a physical education major.

There, too, he found all studying and no activities did not pay off with good grades.

A professor helped him realize he needed balance in his life.

"Once I took the pressure off, I was back to enjoying education," he said.

That change in lifestyle took him from the bottom of the class to the top in his studies.

Summerside was accepted at the University of Iowa Medical School, but took a year off to make sure medicine was the right path to follow.

"I rode my motorcycle out west," Summerside said.

It was while in the mountains near San Diego that he decided to continue school.

I enjoyed med school, and liked every subject," he said.

It's that same philosophy of taking the pressure off that Summerside uses as a school board member.

In some instances, he sees an almost "professional" approach to high school athletics participation.

"It's made some students a single sport participant," he said. "That's not healthy for kids or for later in life. The reward of living is experience. The more limited the experience, the less fun life is."

In his medical career, Summerside and his partners have taken the path of giving quality medical care, rather than focus on the unit cost that medical care.

"We weren't afraid to take a different route," Summerside said.

Summerside also credits his family for how he lives his life.

He and his wife, Peggy, have been married for 29 years. They are the parents of five children: Erik, Darnell, Jordan, Mark and Meg.

"I have a great family," Summerside said of his wife and children. "Family will help you evaluate your life and keep things in perspective."

Last year, the alumni association decided to award a Distinguished Alumni Award in cooperation with the LCSD Foundation, to recognize an alumni for outstanding contributions to their communities, Beitelspacher explained.

"This year, there were many wonderful nominations, and the decision was so difficult, that we have chosen to name two honorees this year," Beitelspacher said.

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