Maintaining chamber security and decorum, keeping up capitol properties and facilities, coordinating office moves and travel logistics, overseeing emergency planning and meeting the daily needs of the chamber’s 120 members are just some of the responsibilities that Earnie consistently managed on a daily basis. Last week, the House honored Earnie’s career with an official House resolution and no fewer than four standing ovations from the members he has served for so many years. Speaker Will Weatherford also announced that a House Meeting Room would be named “Sumner Hall” in Earnie’s honor.
In addition to his storied career in the Florida House, Earnie was also very active at NCSL for many years. In 1978, Earnie became a member of the National Legislative Services and Security Association (NLSSA), one of NCSL’s 10 staff sections committed to the professional development of security and services personnel throughout the country. Over his 34 years with NLSSA, Earnie served on the organization’s executive board in a number of capacities, including two terms as NLSSA president (2006-2008).
As a member of NLSSA, Earnie maintained a strong commitment to the legislative institution and was dedicated to the professional development of new staff members both in Florida and around the country. Earnie understood the importance of developing new talent and viewed NCSL as an opportunity to pass on the professional expertise he had acquired over his career. It was through this commitment that Earnie was awarded all three of the organization’s service awards, the Legislative Staff Achievement Award (2002), The John Everhardt “Trooper” Award (2003) and the Tony Beard Memorial Award (2008).
Here is what some of Earnie Sumner’s NLSSA colleagues had to say about his retirement:
“Working with Earnie Sumner has been a blessing and a pleasure. Not only has he been a mentor and a model of professionalism and integrity, but he has also become a great friend. The Florida House of Representatives has been served well over the past four decades by his commitment to excellent service and dedication to the members, staff, and public. He will be greatly missed by this institution.” –Marty McDonald, Florida House Deputy Sergeant at Arms
“Earnie is one of my best friends. Someone who is just the type of person you want to spend time with, and as a professional, someone I have learned a great deal from. The people of the State of Florida will never really know all the contributions he has made, which is typical of Sergeants at Arms such as he. He has provided quiet, trustworthy, professional service. I thank him for all he has done for me, and especially NLSSA and wish him well in his new adventure in life.” –Tony Beard, California Senate Sergeant at Arms
“Earnie has been a long time leader within NLSSA and NCSL and has served as a mentor to many new members of our association over the years. In his leadership roles within NLSSA and NCSL, he is respected by all for his warm personality, institutional knowledge, and fair-minded approach to issues facing legislative staff. He is a man of integrity and a great role model of how legislative staff should conduct themselves. I congratulate him on his retirement and he certainly deserves all the accolades bestowed upon him.”–Rod Welsh, Texas House Sergeant at Arms
“I met Earnie in 2007 in New Hampshire, as a freshman member of NLSSA and attending my very first conference. Earnie was President at that time and didn’t hesitate to extend his hand and offer a welcoming handshake; we’ve been friends ever since. NLSSA is a family within itself and Earnie will be dearly missed by all who have had the pleasure of his friendship. “-Rick DeLeon, Texas Senate Sergeant at Arms.
“Thank you for your leadership and dedicated service to the National Legislative Services and Security Association. You have left an enduring legacy that will live on for many years to come. Congratulations and Best Wishes on your retirement. ‘- Jimmetta G. Peoples, Alabama Senate Security
“Earnie has been a member of NLSSA for 35 years and during that time as an active member, officer, and president, has provided support, guidance and leadership. His contributions to NLSSA and NCSL will be felt for many years to come. Earnie, congratulations on your upcoming retirement. We hope to have many more years of your participation with the NLSSA family.” –Jim Melton, South Carolina Senate Sergeant at Arms