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Dr. Sam, Soldier, Educator, Advocate, Friend

An Autobiography

by Samuel E. Kelly

Publication Year: 2010

Published by: University of Washington Press


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

The late 1960s and early 1970s in the United States were times of strife and conflict and glimmerings of hope. Growing opposition to the war in Vietnam collided with forces seeking environmental protection. The biggest struggle was the unending drive for equal rights for all citizens....

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pp. xi-xiii

A number of people have helped me tell the story of my life. I want to acknowledge my military colleagues who jogged this old soldier’s memory and reminded me of both the honor and the sacrifice that comes with wearing the uniform of a U.S. Army officer. I think specifically of Brigadier General Steve Stephens, Colonel Jim Manning, and Colonel Sam...

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pp. xv-xviii

On Saturday, January 28, 2006, more than one hundred people gathered at the Riverside Golf and Country Club in Portland, Oregon, to celebrate the eightieth birthday of Samuel Eugene Kelly. As his children performed the songs of his youth, his grandchildren brought forth handmade expressions of love, and adults from various phases of his long...

Part I: Childhood

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Chapter 1: A Connecticut Childhood

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pp. 5-18

I was born to a poor family in one of the wealthiest towns in the nation. My earliest memory goes back to when I was three, riding my tricycle on the front porch of my house in Cos Cob, an area of Greenwich, Connecticut. The neighborhood was named after John Coe, who in the 1640s built the first cob, or sea wall, at the mouth of the Mianus River. Coe’s...

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Chapter 2: Thirty Minutes from Harlem

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pp. 19-34

All the schools I attended in Greenwich were predominantly white. Of the four hundred students at Mianus Elementary, my brother Bob and I were the only ones who were black. Another black family moved into our Cos Cob neighborhood while we were in school but quickly moved out. When my family moved to the section of Greenwich called East Port...

Part II: Soldier

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Chapter 3: A Segregated Army

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pp. 37-51

In 1942, I dropped out of Stamford High School to go to work for Northern Warren Cutex Corporation. Many students dropped out because they were not performing well academically, because of family or personal issues at home, because they needed to support their families, or because they were no longer motivated. None of those reasons applied to me. I left...

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Chapter 4: In Occupied Japan

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pp. 52-61

Camp Stoneman was located near the city of Fairfield-Suisun, California. We processed out of Fairfield Army Air Base nearby and boarded a ship holding twelve thousand soldiers for the twenty-two-day voyage to Yokohama, Japan....

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Chapter 5: Integrating the Army

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pp. 62-77

I almost didn’t have the chance to see an integrated U.S. Army. The year the army integrated, 1948, was also a year of personal and professional crisis. I left the service in April, taking a six-month unplanned break from the military. At the time, I thought the separation was permanent....

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Chapter 6: Korea

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pp. 78-98

The Korean War was a turning point in my military career, the opportunity to finally prove myself. I had always felt a gnawing pain in my belly about not being treated fairly because of the court-martial and had determined then, as a Spartan would say, “to come back with my shield—or on it.”...

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Chapter 7: A Career Soldier

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pp. 99-118

When I returned to the United States in May 1952, I was assigned to Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, a U.S. Army Signal Corps center. The center needed officers who were experienced in sports programs, and I was made the assistant athletic director. The captaincy that had been promised to me in Korea finally caught up with me in June 1952....

Part III: Educator

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Chapter 8: Community College Instructor

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pp. 121-135

After earning three degrees while I was in the army, a BA and a BS from West Virginia State College and an MA from Marshall University, I felt confident that I’d be able to get a job when I retired from military service. I thought I’d teach high school history and work my way up to principal, but Joyce introduced me to one of her friends who was a...

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Chapter 9: Coming to the University of Washington

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pp. 136-158

Dr. Charles Evans had impressive credentials. In addition to being president of the University of Washington Faculty Senate, he had a PhD in microbiology. As senate president, he had taken the first steps toward organizing a program that would serve the needs of minority students. He was director of the Special Education Program (sep), which he operated...

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Chapter 10: Building the Office of Minority Affairs

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pp. 159-179

In making the move to the University of Washington, I believed I was following my destiny. When Paul Robeson had directed me to do something “for the race” so many years before, I had taken it to heart. The black students at the university needed leadership and direction. They were young, inexperienced, and without adult leadership. Many were...

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Chapter 11: Final Years at the University of Washington

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pp. 180-196

My training and background in the U.S. Army helped me enormously in dealing with the issues I faced as vice president for minority affairs. Having gone into combat in Korea as a young rifle platoon leader and led men into battle, I had a keen sense of how to treat and care for soldiers under my command. This leadership sense had made me bold and...

Part IV: Advocate

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Chapter 12: Starting Over

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pp. 199-210

Since my eighteenth birthday, I had spent most of my life with two employers, the U.S. Army and the University of Washington. Now, at fifty-six years of age, I was starting over. I was not ready for “retirement,” whatever that meant. Although I loved golf, I could not see myself spending the rest of my days on the links....

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Chapter 13: The Vancouver Years

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pp. 211-223

I began the process of reestablishing my career in education in Vancouver by contacting Paul Aldinger, the chair of the Social Sciences Department at Clark College. We hit it off immediately. Paul needed someone to teach U.S. history, and we agreed that I would begin my employment at the college in spring quarter 1991, only two weeks after our interview....

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Epilogue: A Life of Service and Friendship

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pp. 225-226

We are completing this manuscript in the spring of 2009. It is the sixtieth anniversary of President Truman’s Executive Order 9981, which integrated the U.S. Army, and the fortieth anniversary of the University of Washington’s Black Student Union protest. I have lived through seven decades of American history, almost a third of the life of the...


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pp. 227-230

U.S. Army Awards, Citations, and Commendations, 1945–65

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pp. 231


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pp. 232-243

E-ISBN-13: 9780295800813
E-ISBN-10: 029580081X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780295990613
Print-ISBN-10: 0295990619

Publication Year: 2010

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • African American soldiers -- Biography.
  • Kelly, Samuel E. (Samuel Eugene), 1926-.
  • African American college administrators -- Washington (State) -- Biography.
  • College administrators -- Washington (State) -- Biography.
  • University of Washington -- Professional staff -- Biography.
  • Soldiers -- United States -- Biography.
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