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Dr. Gary B. and Pamela S. Williams honored with Boniface DeRoo Award for Philanthropy

Summa Health's most prestigious award for benefactors

On August 19, 2021, Dr. Gary B. and Pamela S. Williams, longtime philanthropic leaders at Summa Health and in Northeast Ohio, were honored with the prestigious Summa Health Boniface DeRoo Award for Philanthropy. The award, named for the unassuming Akron blacksmith who bequeathed his entire estate more than 129 years ago to create what is now Summa Health, is the highest honor given to Summa Health benefactors.

Cliff Deveny, M.D., president and chief executive officer of Summa Health, announced the award during the Summa Society Celebration — the health system’s annual donor recognition dinner — on the Stark State College Akron Campus. Following the awards presentation, Dr. Deveny also announced that Dr. Gary and Mrs. Williams made a new gift of $15 million to the health system.

“This truly meaningful and transformational gesture will have a positive impact on the health and well-being of the greater Akron community for years to come,” said Dr. Deveny.

In recognition of what is the largest gift in its history, Summa has named its patient tower – the Dr. Gary B. and Pamela S. Williams Tower.

“We are proud to recognize Dr. and Mrs. Williams’ generosity with naming our patient tower, the front door of the Akron Campus, in their honor. There, their name will forever shine in the Akron skyline as a testament to their legacy of caring for our community as the most generous benefactors in the history of Summa Health.”

As a renowned surgeon at Summa Health for more than four decades, an associate professor of surgery at Northeast Ohio Medical University and an instructor of surgery at The Ohio State University, Dr. Williams most recently served as chief of the Division of General Surgery and medical director of breast health services at Summa Health. Dr. Williams, now retired, pioneered coordinated, patient-centered multidisciplinary care for breast health services at Summa Health, now a standard of care for all Summa Health services.

He was lauded with the Summa Health’s Distinguished Physician Award in 2017 in recognition of and with gratitude from countless patients and the hundreds of physicians and surgeons trained by him in the compassionate delivery of clinical excellence. 

Dr. Williams has been a member of the Masonic Fraternity for 50 years and is active in The Shrine, a branch of the organization that helps disabled children and burn victims. He currently serves as secretary on the board of trustees for The Ohio Masonic Home; member of the board of trustees for the Shriners Hospital for Children-Erie, Pennsylvania; and board chair of the Western Reserve Masonic Community.

Mrs. Williams has dedicated her life to the care of others, volunteering countless hours of service to those in need around the world through her leadership in the American Red Cross. A lifelong educator, she has taught at schools in Akron, Cuyahoga Falls and Worthington. She is active with United Way of Summit County, City of Akron Housing Appeals Board and the Northern Ohio Golf Charities Foundation, among others. She is a member of The University of Akron Foundation Board of Directors.

Mrs. Williams has received numerous honors, including the 2014 H. Peter Burg Community Leadership Award from the American Red Cross of Summit and Portage Counties; the Peter Bommarito Community Award from the United Way of Summit County in 1999; and the Distinguished Leader Award from Leadership Akron in 1999.

The Williams’ philanthropy extends far beyond Summa Health. The Dr. Gary B. and Pamela S. Williams Honors College recognizes the couple’s generosity to their alma mater, The University of Akron, where they first met while receiving their undergraduate degrees.

Dr. and Mrs. Williams gave a gift of $5 million to Summa Health in the fall of 2017, which was the largest ever given to Summa Health by a physician and his wife and the second largest gift in the history of the health system. When the new patient tower opened on the Akron Campus of Summa Health in May 2019, it became home to the Dr. Gary B. and Pamela S. Williams Center for Breast Health – a name that now graces all locations providing breast health services at Summa Health – in recognition of their previous gift.

Previous honorees of the Boniface DeRoo Award are the Women’s Board of St. Thomas Hospital and the Women’s Board of Summa Health (2019), Yvonne and the late Richard Hamlin (2018), Vincent and Nancy DiGirolamo (2015) and Ann and the late David Brennan (2014).


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