The Solon E. Summerfield Foundation, Inc. was conceived in 1929 by Solon Summerfield as a memorial to his father, a University of Kansas law professor. Summerfield himself earned a bachelor's and a law degree from KU and remained steadfastly faithful to the university, serving on the Board of Trustees of The Kansas University Endowment Association and receiving KU's Distinguished Service Citation for service to humanity.
Born in 1877 in Lawrence Kansas, Summerfield left the practice of law and established himself in the business world. He moved to New York and, with money borrowed from his uncle, purchased a ribbon factory. After a year running the business, Summerfield noted the difficulty of the manufacturing of and the waning market for high grade ribbons and was consequently prompted to stake his future on a different product: silk stockings. With another loan from his uncle, Summerfield bought four new hosiery machines and established the Gotham Silk Hosiery Company in 1911. By 1925, Gotham had become a publicly owned company listed on the NYSE, and Summerfield had become a wealthy man.
Sparked by Summerfield's desire to establish scholarships which would "enable deserving boys to go through the full four year course at the University," the Solon E. Summerfield Foundation was formed in 1929. Since that time, the Foundation has operated continuously, funding not only these University of Kansas scholarships, but many others through non-profit organizations around the country. In addition, and in accordance with the dictates of Summerfield's will, the Foundation supports a variety of charitable organizations and projects that conform to Summerfield's devotion to education, the arts, medicine, and social services.