Bio Samuel Proctor
by Lowell Fewster, (4) 62-64
Dr. Samuel DeWitt Proctor, Nigeria PC Director in 1962 as we arrived, died in May 1997. Right up to the time of his death, he was regarded as among the top ten preachers in this country. He had retired from the pastorate of Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem where he served as senior pastor for 17 years and from Rutgers University after 15 years as a sociology professor.
I recall when Sam Proctor visited my school in Yola. My students all wanted to see him and hear him speak, at least partially because they did not believe that in the United States a black person could be the boss of a white person like me. Sam represented for me, in his Peace Corps leadership, a flexibility and support that in later administrations would shift because of the much larger numbers and, perhaps, because the personalities were not that of Sam. I recall that when we wrote to him to ask his permission to drive our jeep across the border to Garuoa, Cameroon, (we said for supplies, but it was really for the steak dinners flown in from France) he wrote back and said, "I can't give you permission to do that, but send me a postcard when you get back."
My path continued to cross Sam's as he worked in the Office of Economic Opportunity and at the University of Wisconsin. Later I became vice president of the seminary where he was a trustee (Colgate Rochester/Crozer). I recall once at a trustees' meeting, when some students were giving me a hard time as an administrator, Sam delivered quite a monologue on my pioneering and noble service with him in the Peace Corps (with no small amount of preacher's license embellishing my feats). More recently, I was honored that Sam Proctor was willing to be a reference for me, including in my present job
Proctor had a great influence on many people's lives, not only through his preaching and teaching, but also through his personal concern and mentoring. His life empowered and supported me and many others. The world is richer because of his unique life and gifts.