Samuel Dewitt Proctor

Samuel Dewitt Proctor

The Forty-Sixth Laurel Wreath Wearer [1999]

Samuel Dewitt Proctor [Norfolk (VA) Alumni Chapter] was born in Norfolk [VA] on July 13, 1921. He earned an AB degree from Virginia Union University [1942], a BD degree from Crozer Theological Seminary [1945], and a ThD degree from Boston University [1950].

Proctor was ordained a Baptist minister in 1943. While pursuing his Doctor of Theology degree, he served as pastor of the Pond Street Baptist Church in Providence [RI].

In 1949, he returned to Virginia Union as Professor of Religion and Ethics and Dean of the School of Religion. The board of trustees appointed him vice president in 1953, and elevated him to president in 1955. In 1960, he left his alma mater to become president of North CaroJina A & T College. He took a leave of absence from the College in 1963 to become Associate Director of the Peace Corp. His temporary departure from the College soon became permanent.

In 1965, Proctor moved to the Office of Economic Opportunity as a special assistant to the National Director. During his tenure at OEO, he was also Associate General Secretary of the National Council of Churches. In 1968, he became president of the Institute for Service to Education, and accepted a position at the University of Wisconsin as Dean of Special Projects. Proctor returned to the east coast [1969] to become Professor of Education at the Graduate School of Education at Rutgers University. The University endowed a chair in his name. Proctor retired from the University in 1984.

When th death of Adam Clayton Powell Jr created a vacancy at the Abyssinian Baptist Church, the congregation turned to the preacher from Norfolk to replace their departed leader. Under his leadership and direction, the church align d denominationally with the American Baptist Church s (USA), the NationaJ Baptist Convention USA, fnc., and the Progressive National Baptist Convention. 'flu:ough these affiliations, the church became a working partner with the National Council of 01urches and the World Council of Churches. In 1986, Proctor formed the Abyssinian Development Corporation. He also mentored the careers of two young ministers - Calvin Butts [a 1968 initiate of the Morehouse College Chapter, the Pi of Kappa Alpha Psi], who succeeded Proctor as Pastor upon his retirement in 1989, and Marvin McMickle [a 1975 initiate of the New York (NY) Alumni Chapter], Pastor of the Antioch Baptist Church in Cleveland [OH].

Along with his professional and religious commitments, Proctor was a lecturer to the American Baptist Assembly; Visiting Lecturer in Education at 􀃇mory University; Trustee of the Overseas Development Council on Religious Affairs; Trustee of the United Negro College Fund; and Trustee of Meharry Medical College. He was the recipient o.f numerous awards and honorary doctoral degrees from several institutions of higher learning throughout the world. A prolific writer, Proctor wrote several books, including, We Have This Ministry, How Shall They Hear, and Sermons from the Black Pulpit.

Proctor was a unique man who relied on a rock hard foundation ingrained in his spirit that helped him to shatter the barriers of race and religion. Through that faith, he flourished as a pastor, preacher, college president and teacher.

Proctor, a 1938 Alpha Phi initiate, affiliated with alumni chapters in Richmond [VA], Greensboro [NC], New Brunswick (NJ) and Norfolk [VA]. He was the keynote speaker at several Grand Chapter meetings.

He delivered an invigorating sermon at the Memorial Service held at the Golden Anniversary Celebration and was the Closed Banquet speaker at the Diamond Jubilee. His outstanding contributions in his profession that earned him the respect and admiration of world leaders earned him the 46th Laurel Wreath.

Proctor died in May 1997 from a heart attack while talking with students at a college in Iowa where he had gone to lecture. His son Timothy Proctor accepted the award on behalf of the Proctor family.