Chapter 12 - The Superintendents
After the iconic image of Captain Kable standing straight and tall in his Confederate Uniform, the Superintendent was the face and soul of the Staunton Military Academy. The Superintendent was the first Academy representative that potential cadets and their parents met when they came to the Academy for a visit. He was also the last Academy representative that a cadet shook hands with as the long awaited graduation diploma was received and the cadet became a civilian.
The Superintendent oversaw the day to day operations of the Academy and the staff. The title of the job of Superintendent changed slightly in the early years, but the duties never did. The Superintendent worked to ensure that the high goals established for the Academy were met by all associated with the academy, from cadets to staff.
He was almost a benevolent father figure by the cadets. When cadets saw the Superintendent around the campus they happily saluted the distinguished gentleman. But no cadet ever wanted to be called to his office. Like a telegram from days gone by, the call for such a meeting could only be bad news.
Seventeen men had the honor of holding the position of Superintendent during the Academy's 93 years of operation. Some were military leaders from outside the Academy, some were professional educators, some were teachers that spent their entire careers at SMA, and some were simply men who answered a call of duty to the Academy and its Corps of Cadets. These are the stories of those men.
Captain William H. Kable
1884 - 1912
William H. Kable first taught at a private school in Jefferson County, Virginia (now West Virginia) in 1854 when he was seventeen years old. He matriculated at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia in the fall of 1858; continuing there until June of 1860. At that time he left the University and traveled to Southampton County, Virginia to take a position as the assistant Instructor at the Green Plain Academy.
After serving in the Confederate Calvary during the War Between the States, Kable returned to his home and began teaching again at the same school he had taught at when he was seventeen. He then reentered the University of Virginia in 1867 and was awarded a Master of Arts in May 1868. It was then that William Kable established his first school. William H. Kable and S.J. Coffman opened a classical and mathematical school in West View, Augusta County, Virginia in June of 1868.
Kable left teaching in June 1869 due to "Defective Eyesight" and returned to his home in Kabletown, West Virginia to take up farming on the family farm for the next three years. In September of 1872, the Board of Trustees of the Charlestown Academy announced that they had secured the services of Kable for the 1872-73 school term. In May of 1873, Kable was awarded an Honorary Master of Arts from Columbia College (now George Washington University).
In 1884, Kable left Charlestown and the Charlestown Academy to open The Staunton Male Academy in Staunton, Virginia. He opened the school in September of 1884 with 50 students and himself as Principal and Instructor. The name of the school was changed to the Staunton Military Academy in 1888. Kable continued teaching at the Academy until 1906 and remained Principal of the Academy until his death in May of 1912.
Colonel William G. Kable
1912 - 1920
William G. Kable was born September 10, 1872, at Kabletown, Virginia (Now West Virginia). He first attended school at the Charlestown Academy. At the age of twelve he came to Staunton, Virginia and began attending the Staunton Male Academy, the school founded by his father. William. G. Kable graduated from the Academy in 1890.
After graduation he went to Cincinnati to begin a business career. He had been there only one year when he decided to better equip himself for a business profession. He left Cincinnati and went to Baltimore, where he entered the Business College of Bryant & Stratton.
After graduation from this institution, he worked three years in the city of Baltimore. From Baltimore he came back to Staunton to become a member of the faculty in the Staunton Military Academy for two years. He then left Staunton, this time settling in New York City. During his time there he worked for companies such as The Catalonia Fire Insurance Company, Mills & Gibb, R. T. Wilson & Company, and at the Waldorf-Astoria in the capacity of chief stenographer. He returned to Staunton in 1900 to become Commandant of Cadets at the Staunton Military Academy. Over the next several years, he also taught several subjects and assumed the position of Business Manager of the Academy. After the devastating fire of 1904, W. G. Kable formulated the master expansion plan that resulted in the construction of South Barracks (1905), The Mess Hall (1913), the Swimming Pool (1913), the Superintendent's House (1916), North Barracks (1919), the Central Plant (1919).
Upon the death of William H. Kable in May 1912, W.G. Kable assumed the position of Principal. In 1913 W. G. Kable assumed the title of President of the Academy, officially retiring the title of Principal in honor of his father. W. G. Kable remained President of the Academy until his death in July of 1920.
Colonel Thomas H. Russell
1920 - 1933
Thomas H. Russell began his association with Military Academies at the Citadel in Charleston, SC. He entered the Citadel in October 1898. He Graduated as a Cadet Captain on June 30, 1902. He went from there to the Horner Military Academy in Oxford, SC as an instructor in Mathematics.
Russell began his career at SMA in the fall of 1904 once again as a Mathematics instructor. After the fire of November 1904 destroyed the barracks, Russell stayed on as part of the reduced staff. He was appointed Headmaster in September of 1905. Over the next 15 years, Russell maintained his position as Headmaster and occasionally took on the title of Superintendent though W.G. Kable continued as President and ran the school. Russell was elected president of the Academy in 1920 following the death of W.G. Kable.
Russell oversaw the completion of W.G. Kable's master plan for the Academy with the construction of Memorial Hall (now Deming Hall) in 1926 and the construction of Kable Hall in 1931.
Russell remained President of the Academy until his death in May 1933.
Colonel Leroy L. Sutherland
1933 - 1934
Leroy L. Sutherland graduated with a B.A. from Richmond College (now University of Richmond) and obtained a M.A. from John Hopkins University. He went on to teach Science for two years at Fork Union Military Academy. He started his career at SMA in 1908 teaching Latin. By 1912 he had been appointed Head of the Chemistry Department. In 1925 he was appointed Head of the Science Department.
In the June of 1933, Colonel Sutherland was elected Superintendent of the Academy. He remained in that role until June of 1934 when he relinquished that position and returned to his position of Head of the Science Department and Instructor in Chemistry.
Colonel Sutherland remained teaching at the Academy until his death in 1941.
Robert T. Hall
1934 - 1935
The biographical outline below is reprinted from the March 16, 1934 issue of the Kablegram.
The appointment of Robert Tremaine Hall as superintendent of Staunton Military Academy was announced recently by the Board of Trustees effective June 1934.
Mr. Hall, who for the past six years has served as headmaster at Englewood School for boys, at Englewood, N. J., succeeds Colonel Leroy Sutherland, who has resigned the post of Superintendent. Colonel Sutherland will remain a member of the faculty.
Mr. Hall, a graduate of both Princeton and Harvard, taught at Howe School, at Howe, Ind. before accepting the headmastership at Englewood.
Mr. Hall resigned from the Superintendent's position effective May 1, 1935.
Major Roy W. Wonson
May 1, 1935 - June 15, 1935
Roy W. Wonson graduated June 1902 from the Citadel in Charleston, SC. While a cadet there he had been a roommate of Thomas Russell. He taught History in schools in Charleston from 1902 until 1910. During the summer breaks, Wonson did graduate work at Columbia University in New York. Wonson joined SMA as an instructor in History in 1910. In 1912, he was named Post Adjutant and Head of the History Department.
Wonson was appointed both Superintendent of SMA and Headmaster on April 29, 1935, following the resignation of Robert Hall, Superintendent, and A.E. Everett, Headmaster. After the appointment of Emory Middour as Superintendent in June 1935, Wonson remained as Headmaster until June of 1939. He then returned to his duties as Head of the History Department until his death on October 11, 1942.
Colonel Emory J. Middour
1935 - 1941
The biography below for Colonel Middour was taken from the October 18, 1935 issue of the Kablegram.
At a meeting of the Trustees of Staunton Military Academy in May of 1935, Colonel Emory J. Middour, who was at that time Assistant Headmaster of Mercersburg Academy, Mercersburg, Pa., was elected Superintendent of S.M.A. He took up his work at Staunton on June 15, 1935.
Colonel Middour came to the Academy with rich and successful experience. Upon the completion of his course at one of the Pennsylvania State Teachers' Colleges, leading his class scholastically, he was elected principal of a small high school at the age of eighteen. Colonel Middour served in this work for three years, attending the Perkiomen Seminary during the two summer terms after which he was awarded a diploma. He then entered Princeton University and graduated with the class of 1916. For the next four years he was a teacher of mathematics and history and senior master of the National Cathedral School for Boys, Washington, D.C. During the summer he did graduate work at the University of Pennsylvania. In the fall of 1920 Colonel Middour went to Mercersburg Academy as head of the history department. In 1922 he was invited to become assistant to the headmaster of that great school and in 1927, upon nomination of the headmaster, and by a vote of approval of the board of regents, Colonel Middour was named the assistant head master, serving in that position to the time of his election to the superintendency of Staunton Military Academy.
Colonel Middour came to the Staunton Military Academy with versatile and valuable school experience. He had taught successfully, knew the problem of school administration and enjoyed the friendship of thousands of boys and their parents.
Colonel Middour came to Staunton from a nationally known school after thirteen successful years of experience with two outstanding head masters - one, Dr. William Mann Irvine, a great builder; the other, Dr. Boyd Edwards, a great inspirational and educational leader.
Colonel Middour resigned the Superintendent's position on March 10, 1941.
Colonel E. R. Warner McCabe
1941 - 1943
The biography below for Colonel McCabe was taken from the March 7, 1941 issue of the Kablegram.
The Board of Directors of the Staunton Military Academy announced on Tuesday, February 25, 1941, the election of Colonel E. R. Warner McCabe, United states Army retired, as Superintendent of the Academy effective March 10th.
Colonel McCabe is the son of the late William Gordon McCabe, one of Virginia's most distinguished and successful educators.
Colonel McCabe was educated at McCabe's University School, and at the University of Virginia. In 1900 he received his commission in the United States Army. His services in the army included duty in the Far East, in Mexico with the Pershing expedition, and in France in the First World War. He was military attaché at Prague, Czechoslovakia, 1920-1922; chief military attaché and foreign liaison section, war department, general staff 1932; military attaché, Rome, Italy, 1924-1926.
He served at Stanford University as professor of military science and tactics. His last two important assignments were in Chicago, as chief of staff of the 6th Corps area and in the war department at Washington, D.C., as one of the five assistant chiefs of staff of the army. He was a graduate of the service schools of Fort Leavenworth, Fort Riley, Fort Sill, and of the army war college. He retired from the army on July 31, 1940 and made his home in Charlottesville, Va. Colonel McCabe was the holder of a number of decorations from foreign governments.
Colonel McCabe remained Superintendent of SMA until his recall to active duty effective May 21, 1943.
Colonel Samuel S. Pitcher
May 1943 - September 1943
Samuel S. Pitcher was born in Charleston, SC on July 4, 1891. He attended the Bennett School for his early education and graduated from the Charleston High School with honors. Stewart determined from an early age to enter the Citadel and enrolled there in 1908. He graduated from there as both a Cadet Captain and as Class Valedictorian in June 1912.
He joined SMA in September 1912 as Instructor of Mechanical Drawing rising to become Head of the Department in 1914. He was absent from the Academy for several months in 1916 while he served as Regimental Adjutant of the First Virginia National Guard during that unit's deployment to the Mexican border.
After returning from that deployment in the fall of 1916, Pitcher left the National Guard and resumed his teaching position at SMA. He was made Post Adjutant of the Academy in 1920. He also fulfilled the position of Assistant Headmaster from the start of the 1932 session through the end of the 1933-1934 session.
In May of 1943 Colonel Warner McCabe, the Superintendent of SMA, was ordered by the War Department to active duty. Colonel Pitcher was named Acting Superintendent by the Board of Directors while a search was made for a permanent Superintendent. Colonel Pitcher requested that he not be considered for the permanent position so that he would be able to remain as an instructor. General Earl McFarland was appointed Superintendent in September of 1943 and Colonel Pitcher resumed his position as the Head of the Mathematics Department.
Colonel Pitcher remained teaching at the Academy until June of 1969. His 57 years of service at the Academy was the longest tenure of any person.
General Earl McFarland
September 1943 - 1949
The biography below for General McFarland was taken from the October 15, 1943 issue of the Kablegram.
Brigadier General Earl McFarland was named Superintendent of the Staunton Military Academy by the Board of Directors in September of 1943 and assumed the post on September 16, 1943. General McFarland was the first General Officer to hold the post of Superintendent of the Academy.
General McFarland graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1906 and received his commission as a second lieutenant in the Field Artillery on June 16, 1906. He saw service in the Philippines from 1908 to 1910. He was then promoted to Captain and assigned to the Ordnance Department. He returned to West Point as Assistant Professor of Ordnance and Gunnery. From 1920 to 1924 the General was on duty as the Commanding Officer of the Springfield Armory in Massachusetts. In 1924 he once again returned to West Point as Professor of Ordinance and Gunnery. During this stay General McFarland wrote the book "Ordnance and Gunnery", a textbook that was used for many years.
Besides West Point, the General also attended the Ordnance School of Technology in 1911; the Ordnance School of Application in 1912the Command and General Staff School in 1931; the Army Industrial College in 1933; Worchester Polytechnic Institute in 1933; and the Army War College in 1934. General McFarland held degrees in both B.S. and M.E.
General McFarland resigned the position of Superintendent on August 1, 1949.
General Wilton B. Persons
1949 - 1951
The biography below for General Person was taken from the October7, 1949 issue of the Kablegram.
Major General Wilton B. Persons assumed his duties as Superintendent of the Staunton Military Academy on August 1, 1949, the effective date of General McFarland's resignation.
General Persons was born in Montgomery, Alabama, on January 9, 1896. He attended the Starke University Military School and was graduated from the Sidney Lanier High School, Montgomery. In 1916 he was graduated from Alabama Polytechnic Institute with a degree of Bachelor of Science in electric engineering. He also holds a degree of Master of Business Administration (Magna Cum Laude) from the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration. He was a graduate of the National War College, Army Command and Staff School, Signal Corps School, Air Tactical School, and held the Air Rating of Combat Observer.
From May until August, 1917, he was assigned as an officer candidate to the Seventh Provisional Training Regiment at Fort McPherson, Georgia; he was next assigned to the Coast Defenses of Baltimore, Maryland, at Fort Howard, Maryland. In May, 1918, he went to France with the Fifty-eighth Coast Artillery and served as a battery commander on the Western Front. He returned to the United States in June, 1919, after a period of service in the Army of Occupation.
He then joined the Thirty-first Artillery Brigade at fort Winfield Scott, California, and in December, 1919, was transferred to the Eight Field Signal Battalion at Camp Dodge, Iowa. In 1920 he went to Camp Lewis, Washington where he was assigned to the Fourth Signal Company. In July 1921, he was assigned as acting officer in charge of the Alaskan Military Submarine Cable System, and served on that assignment until June, 1924.
In June, 1924, he went to Springfield, Ohio, to supervise development and manufacture of new apparatus for the Alaskan Cable; and in September, 1924, he went to the University of Minnesota serving as Professor of Military Science and Tactics for five years. Later he was assigned to the office of the Chief Signal Officer in Washington, D.C., in charge of purchasing and contacting, and in August, 1933, was transferred to the Office of Assistant Secretary of War, where he supervised procurement for the Army, and served as liaison officer with the Military Affairs Committee until August, 1937. After attending the prenamed schools, he was named the Chief of the Legislative and Liaison Division, Office of the Chief of Staff, which position he held until July, 1948. In this capacity he served as a member of the War Department General Staff as personal representative for General George C. Marshall in conducting War Department relations with the Congress, including processing of all legislation necessary to the conduct of the war. Later he held the same position under Generals Eisenhower and Bradley. During this period he made several aerial inspection trips to Europe and the Middle East for the Chief of Staff of the Army including the amphibious landing in Southern France in 1944 and the joint congressional inspection of German atrocity camps in April, 1945, under the leadership of Vice President Barkley. He was named Director, Office of Legislature Liaison , Secretary of Defense, in July, 1948 where as personal representative of Mr. Forrestal, he had responsibility for direction, control, and presentation to the Congress of an integrated legislative program for the National Military Establishment.
The decorations and Awards General Persons held were: Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit; Grand Officer of the Cross of the Sun (Brazil); The Order of Abdon Calderon from the government of Ecuador; Medal of War (Brazilian); World War I, Victory Medal; Army of Occupation, World War I; American Defense Medal, European, World War II; North American Theater, World War II, Victory Medal.
General Person resigned as SMA Superintendent on January 28, 1951, the effective date of his return to active duty on the staff of General Eisenhower.
Colonel Homer W. Jones
1951 - 1952
Colonel Jones entered the Army during World War I. He was a graduate of the Command and General Staff School. Just Prior to World War II, he had charge of all War Department contract and legal activities connected with the vast plant and camp construction program, During the North African and Sicilian campaigns, he served as 7th Army Judge-Advocate; later in the European Theater of Operations, he was Deputy Chief of Supply and Economics Section, Supreme Headquarters, American Expeditionary Force, charged with supervision of relief measures in liberated countries. He served as Chief of Legislative Branch, War Department after his return from Germany until his retirement from the Army after thirty years service in July, 1947.
Colonel Jones then joined SMA as the Business Manager and Treasurer. He was also a member of the Board of Directors of the Academy until July1, 1951. He was appointed Superintendent of the Academy on January 1, 1951. Colonel Jones resigned from the position of Superintendent on December 31, 1952 to take a position as business manager at another school.
Colonel Harrison S. Dey
1953 - 1973
The biography below for Colonel Dey was taken from the December 12, 1952 issue of the Kablegram.
Colonel Harrison S. Dey graduated from Dartmouth College in 1927. He joined the faculty of SMA in September of that year as an instructor in History. He also became an assistant coach of the school baseball team.
During the succeeding years he held positions of coach of the basketball team, Director of Athletics, Alumni Secretary, School Field Representative. In 1950 he was named registrar and public relations director.
In December of 1952, the SMA Board of Directors accepted the resignation of Colonel Homer Jones and named Colonel Dey as Acting Superintendent effective January 1, 1953.
Colonel Dey was named permanent Superintendent the following year. Colonel Dey continued as the Superintendent of SMA until the sale of the school in January of 1973. With the exception of SMA's founder, Captain W. H. Kable, Colonel Dey's tenure as Superintendent was the longest in SMA's history.
Colonel Dey remained active with the SMA Alumni Association until his death during the 1986 SMAAA reunion.
Colonel William C. Moon
1973 - 1974
Colonel William C. Moon joined SMA in September of 1950 after receiving a B.S. from the University of Virginia. His initial assignment at the school was as an instructor in French and Spanish. In later years, he also received a Master of Education from UVA.
Colonel Moon was named the head of the Language Department in 1958. He stayed in that position until he was named school Guidance Counselor in 1967. He further took on the roles of Asst. Superintendent in 1968 and Alumni Secretary in 1969.
Colonel Moon was named Superintendent on January 1, 1973 upon Colonel Dey's resignation. Colonel Moon resigned the position of Superintendent in 1974.
Colonel Moon went on to become the Superintendent of Massanutten Military Academy for seventeen years from 1974 until his retirement in 1991. He passed away on October 29, 2000.
Colonel James L. Noffsinger
1974 - 1975
James Noffsinger was born in Wellman, IA on February 21, 1931. He attended Iowa State College and graduated with a B.S. in Industrial Engineering and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the US Air Force through the ROTC program. He served in B-52's until 1963 when he went to the Air Force Institute of Technology and the Cranfield Institute of Technology, England, to obtain his M.S. in Aerospace Engineering.
Colonel Noffsinger served in Vietnam with the 361st Tactical Electronics Warfare Squadron, Nha Trang, from 1967-1968. He then served at Wright-Patterson Air Force base in the Air Force Systems Command Group until his retirement from the Air Force in 1974.
Colonel Noffsinger joined SMA as Superintendent in 1974, leaving in May of 1975. He continued in the Education field until his full retirement in June 1991.
1975 - 1976
Layne Leoffler graduated from SMA in June 1940 after four years at the Academy. He worked in the Golf course industry for many years amassing a fortune that he was willing to risk to save the Academy.
In November of 1972, Mr. Leoffler put forth an offer to purchase the ailing Academy from the Kable family and continue to run it as a Military Academy. The offer was accepted and Mr. Leoffler's non-profit corporation assumed ownership of the Academy in January 1973.
Enrollments continued to fall and the Academy went into Bankruptcy in July of 1975. Mr. Leoffler was forced to close the Academy in July 1976 and liquidate the Academy's assets. Mr. Leoffler lost over $725,000 in his effort to save the Academy.
Mr. Leoffler moved to Ormond Beach, FL after closing the Academy and returned to the Golfing Industry until his death in 1989.
James Donald Allen
Last Superintendent of SMA
Don graduated from the Staunton Military Academy and later attended the University of Virginia. He was an accomplished CPA for over 50 years and worked for firms in Hampton and later was CFO of Progress Printing Company in Lynchburg, Virginia and President of In Mind, Inc. in Forest, Virginia. Don was proud of the education he received at Staunton Military Academy, excelling in all aspects of cadet life during his six years there. It was at the Academy that his Renaissance nature became apparent.
In academics, Don maintained a 90%+ average every year, putting him on the Superintendents list for his entire stay at the Academy. Additionally, he won several academic medals for highest grades in a subject each year including the English medal, the Plane Geometry medal, and the Latin medal. In sports, Don participated in intramural sports playing everything from J.V. football to Cross County Track to Baseball to the Rifle Team. In the Corps of Cadets, Don rose in rank each year to the highest rank allowed by class. When he graduated, he was a Cadet Major in charge of the 2nd Battalion and was the North Barracks Commander. Additionally, Don was a member of the Howie Rifle Drill Team for three years
As SMA went into Bankruptcy in the mid 1970's, Don came back to the school to try to help find a way save it. He worked with both an Educational Institute and the SMA Alumni Association to try to come up with a workable plan that the creditors and the school management could agree on. In this effort he offered up $1,000,000 of his own money. But alas, the effort was unsuccessful and the school closed in 1976.
Don then purchased the school name and much of the SMA memorabilia. He opened SMA again in Hampton, Virginia for the 1977-1978 school term in a commercial building that he owned. This effort cost him $250,000 of his own money. At the end of that term, he realized the effort was unsustainable and closed the Academy for good. In the early 1980's Don worked with Horace Parsley (SMA '24) and Ike Kivilighan (SMA '29) to move the ownership of the SMA name and the SMA memorabilia to the SMA Alumni Association.
Don, during an interview for the SMA history project, best summed up his feelings for the school by saying - "When I think of SMA, and that is often, it feels more like "home" than anyplace I ever lived"
His remarks are in many a cadet's heart to this day.