Former Hampden-Sydney president, US Army Lieutenant General dies at 93

Lieutenant General Samuel V. Wilson, retired US Army and former president of Hampden-Sydney College. (Image courtesy of Hampden-Sydney College)

HAMPDEN-SYDNEY, Va. (WRIC) — The former president of Hampden-Sydney College from 1992 – 2000, died Saturday at the age of 93.

Lieutenant General Samuel V. Wilson, who was also a retired US Army officer, died at his home in Rice, Virginia.

Current Hampden-Sydney President Larry Stimpert issued a statement about Wilson’s passing.

“Hampden-Sydney College mourns the loss of this exemplary patriot and son of Virginia,” Stimpert said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Susi and his family. In a period of great doubt, the College turned to Gen. Wilson to strengthen the foundation of this institution. In the pantheon of Hampden-Sydney men, perhaps no one is as beloved as ‘General Sam.’”

Representatives said in a release that Wilson guided the college out of a period of uncertainty with “energetic, visible and steady leadership.”

Under Gen. Wilson’s leadership, the enrollment at Hampden-Sydney resumed growth and the endowment nearly doubled. As president, he also oversaw a number of symposia attracting national-level attention and laid the foundation for the establishment of a center focusing on leadership and public service, now known as the Wilson Center for Leadership in the Public Interest at Hampden-Sydney College.

Wilson enlisted in the National Guard as a private in 1940, rising through the ranks and eventually entering military intelligence. At this time he attended Columbia University. He later served as US Defense Attache to the Soviet Union.

Lt. General Samuel V Wilson, US Army. Image courtesy of the US Army

He ultimately served as Deputy to the Director of Central Intelligence for the Intelligence Community, as well as Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

He retired from the Army in 1977 with the rank of Lieutenant General.

His advice was sought by Presidents Nixon, Carter, Ford and George H.W. Bush.

“We will be forever grateful to General Sam for his service to Hampden-Sydney and to this nation,” President Stimpert added. “We will all miss his stories, counsel, and kindness. But, we also know that General Sam’s legacy and character live on in the foundation of this College, and in the countless individuals worldwide he inspired to service and taught to lead.”

Gen. Wilson’s remarks from a 1994 commencement address at Hampden-Sydney College offer words of guidance in this time of mourning:

“And so, let an old soldier of three and a half wars, and over fifty years of public service, who has seen many men die—some, unfortunately, at his own hand, who has roamed the five continents and the seven seas, strolled in the market places from Marrakech to Baghdad to Samarkand and Ulan Bator, browsed in the book stalls of Paris, Berlin, Moscow, Peking and Tokyo, watched the sun rise out of the South China Sea and set in the Indian Ocean, the moon come up over the snows of the Himalayas and the lightning play in the peaks of the Andes, who has missed setting foot in or at least seeing only two places—Albania and the South Pole—tell you this: ‘It is now your world; it is not mine anymore. And it’s a beautiful, blue jewel … a shining sphere. Love it, cherish it, protect it and keep it.’”

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