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Prominent Gainesville attorney Dan Summer dies at 55
Attorneys passion for life was like fireworks, dies of Lou Gehrig's disease
Dan Summer, a prominent Gainesville attorney, died Thursday at age 55 from Lou Gehrig's disease.

Chandelle and Dan Summer shared a birthday before they ever thought about sharing a life together.

“He used the line on me that he thought there was a bond between us,” she said. “I fell for it.”

Two Hall County assistant district attorneys became fast friends and married a few years later. The two opened Summer and Summer, Attorneys at Law, in 1990.

Dan Summer, 55, died Thursday after a battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

From the first Coca-Cola mural on the downtown square, Chandelle Summer saw the relentless spark in him.

“Once he was into something, he was a megalomaniac,” she said, as the two continued buying and renovating properties downtown. “If he liked it, he did it a lot. And I liked it, too. So when the two of us were on the same page — it was like fireworks.”

Although the practices of law varied between the two Summers, it all went into the same pot when raising a family of five, Chandelle Summer said.

“He’s just an unusual force, and all in all a positive force on so many levels,” Northeastern Judicial Circuit Public Defender Brad Morris said. “It is very sad, but he lived a lot of life in his years.”

During Dan Summer’s courtship of Chandelle, Morris recalled the two coming in a sportscar that broke down after they arrived at Morris’ party.

“It was just one of those cars that was cute and flashy, but it was not very reliable,” Chandelle Summer said.

On one of the first dates between the two, Chandelle — donning a scarf like Grace Kelly — rode back with her date and the wrecker service. Yet that couldn’t stop Dan Summer’s upbeat attitude.

More than 25 years of friendship started with a pair of misplaced keys. Attorney Graham McKinnon recalled Dan Summer coming into his office and leaving with McKinnon’s keys of a similar make.

After days of accusing colleagues of a terrible joke, McKinnon said Summer returned.

“He was relentless,” McKinnon said. “He tried a lot of cases, helped a lot of people and was a real talented trial lawyer.”

Superior Court Judge Andrew Fuller, who formerly served as Northeastern Judicial Circuit District Attorney from 1987-1993, said he will be remembered as “one of the last best trial lawyers.”

Before the pretrial diversion programs and efforts to close cases efficiently, Fuller said Dan Summer proved to be a gifted trial lawyer with great preparedness and confidence.

“He was comfortable around people and could persuade people with quality arguments and quality presentations in court,” Fuller said. “He was just good in court.”

Summer kept trying to make the same magic his wife loved watching in the courtroom until he reached his limit, she said.

“He did everything until he knew it was time to quit, and I admire him for that. He hung in there when it wasn’t pretty,” Chandelle Summer said.

In his final days, the longtime Gainesville litigator concerned himself with the well-being of his family, his wife said.

“He would tell me every day how much he loved me and how I was doing a good job for the family,” Chandelle Summer said. “He was such a rock. I will miss him terribly.”

Friends and family will celebrate Dan Summer’s life at the Grove Street Station at 6 p.m. Sunday.

“At the end of the day, the world was much better off that he was born,” Morris said.