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First Name: Elvis

Last Name: Stahr

Birthplace: Hickman, KY, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Middle Name: Jacob

Date of Birth: 09 March 1916

Date of Death: 11 November 1998

Rank: Lieutenant Colonel

Years Served:
Elvis Jacob Stahr, Jr.

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Elvis Jacob Stahr, Jr.
Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army

Elvis Jacob Stahr, Jr. was born on 9 March 1916 in Hickman, KY, to Mary McDaniel Stahr and the Honorable Elvis Stahr, a Fulton County, KY, judge. At the age of 16, Elvis Jr. entered the University of Kentucky where he held the highest academic average in the history of the University. After graduating from the University of Kentucky in 1936 as a member of Sigma Chi, and a member of Pershing Rifles, a National Military Fraternity, he attended Merton College at Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship where he studied law. He was known popularly at Oxford as "the Colonel" and he was said to have resisted assuming British affectations. Returning to the U.S., he practiced law in New York, then studied Chinese at Yale University and served in the Army in combat units in China during World War II as a Lieutenant Colonel.

Early Career

He returned to practicing law in New York after the war, and married Dorothy Howland Berkfield, a New York City debutante. In 1947 he became a law professor at the University of Kentucky. He was named Dean of the University of Kentucky College of Law and served in that capacity until 1956. Along with the University's President and Justice Thurgood Marshall, he assisted in desegregating the law school.

During the Korean War, he took a 16-month leave of absence to serve as Special Assistant to Secretary of the Army Frank Pace Jr. In 1956, Mr. Stahr was back in Washington as Staff Director of President Dwight D. Eisenhower's Commission on Education Beyond High School. He was Vice Chancellor for the professions at the University of Pittsburgh in 1957-58 and President of West Virginia University from 1958 until he was nominated as Secretary of the Army by President John F. Kennedy in 1961.

Secretary of the Army and President of Indiana University

He served as Secretary of the Army in 1961-62, a period that included the Berlin Crisis and the ill-fated, Central Intelligence Agency-sponsored Bay of Pigs invasion aimed at ousting Fidel Castro from power in Cuba. Under his leadership, a major reorganization plan was launched, the combat division structure reorganized, special warfare forces expanded, community relations (Civic Action) expanded, and the Army strengthened during the Berlin Crisis. He also mobilized the Alabama National Guard in 1961 when the Kennedy Administration undertook the desegregation of the University of Alabama. In 1962, he resigned to become President of Indiana University. He became the University's twelfth president. Stahr's presidency saw the Gary and Calumet campuses combined to form IU Northwest, the joint IU-Purdue University campus established in Fort Wayne, the founding of the School of Library and Information Science, and the affiliation of the Herron School of Art in Indianapolis with IU.

Later Career and Life

Stahr retired from Indiana University in 1968, accepting the presidency of the National Audubon Society. Under Mr. Stahr's leadership, the Audubon Society undertook a campaign to increase its influence and membership, which in 10 years more than quadrupled to almost 400,000. As President of the Audubon Society, Mr. Stahr led efforts to preserve the Florida Everglades from commercial and industrial development, fought for accords on international whaling practices and campaigned successfully to liberalize U.S. tax laws to allow charitable organizations to lobby on public policy issues. He retired from Audubon in 1981.

In the years following, he practiced law in Washington, DC, and New York, lobbying for environmental issues. He served on several corporate boards of directors, including Chase Manhattan Corp. and Acadia Mutual Life Insurance Co. In his life he earned more than 27 honorary degrees from various colleges and universities.

Death and Burial

Elvis Jacob Stahr, Jr. died of cancer in his Greenwich, CT, home on Veteran's Day, 11 November 1998. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA.

Honoree ID: 3107   Created by: MHOH




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