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Spirit® is published three times per year by the Texas A&M Foundation, which manages major gifts and endowments for the benefit of academic programs, scholarships and student activities at Texas A&M University.

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The Legacy

An Aggie Abroad

Dr. Samuel R. Gammon III ’44 during the Korean War, where he served as assistant chief of staff of the 97th Division at Fort Dix, New Jersey, after being called to service from nearby Princeton University.

Ask Dr. Samuel R. Gammon III ’44 about his life and he’ll spin you a decades-long tale of heroics, intrigue and romance that spans continents, presidents and popes. Now, at age 96, he’s reflecting on a life well-lived and paying it forward. He recently created an estate gift supporting Texas A&M University’s Department of History to honor his father.

Gammon’s Aggie experience started younger than most: He moved to campus in 1925 as a baby. His father, Dr. Samuel R. Gammon Jr., chaired the university’s Department of Government and History for the next 30 years, and the family lived in faculty campus housing until 1940.

Practically an Aggie since birth, it only made sense that Gammon eventually enrolled at the university. He was eager to join the Corps of Cadets and begin his military training and academic endeavors. “I did three semesters of classes per year and attended summer school,” he recalled. “I left college one semester shy of graduation for Officer Candidate School at Camp Hood (now Fort Hood). Three and a half months later, I was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Army, on Dec. 30, 1943. I was just 19 years old. By that time, we were deep into World War II.”

Before deployment, Gammon had one element of preparation that made him unique: an emphasis on languages. At his father’s insistence, he had studied Latin and French in high school. At Texas A&M, he studied German.  

His preparation paid off, as his first assignment was in Germany as a combat engineer. “I was the only officer in my combat unit who spoke German,” Gammon said. His language skills were essential, as his role was to communicate with local residents while his unit traveled through villages that had been captured by Allied forces.
 

When the war ended, Gammon was assigned to Army headquarters in Paris, where his linguistic training continued to be critical to his duties. “I lived in an old hotel across the street from the Louvre—a rough deal!” he recalled with a chuckle. “We were responsible for all of the property that had been requisitioned by the government, including the top of the Eiffel Tower. It was under a reverse lend-lease from the French, and we had a radio station there. Later, I liked to tell people that I used to own the top of the Eiffel Tower. That kept my French friends respectful!”

In 1946, Gammon returned to Texas A&M to finish his degree in history, then hurried to New Jersey to pursue advanced degrees at Princeton University. He spent a year in London doing research for his Ph.D. dissertation, and it was there that he met a beautiful brunette named Mary from Philadelphia who became his wife and traveling companion for the next 51 years.

After Princeton, Gammon spent two years teaching while studying for the Foreign Service exams; after passing, he enjoyed the next 27 years as a diplomat. “I was posted in Italy, France, Ethiopia—that was my favorite—Mauritius and Washington, D.C. It was a great career. I met four U.S. presidents, three French presidents, two Italian presidents, the emperor of Ethiopia, the Shah of Iran and one pope,” he said. During those years, he also served in the Korean War, but was not called to active duty since his brother had been killed during the previous war and he was the only son remaining in the Gammon family.

Looking back on his career experiences, Gammon said he has no regrets. “Mary and I had a delightful time in the Foreign Service. We had a lot of fun traveling the world together, and I’m grateful for the experiences at Texas A&M that started it all.”

Interested in using a planned gift to benefit your family and leave your footprint in Aggieland? Contact Angela Throne ’03 using the form below, email giftplanning@txamfoundation.com or call (979) 845-5638.

Have you already included a gift to Texas A&M in your will or living trust? Contact us today at giftplanning@txamfoundation.com so that we can recognize your gift and offer you membership in our Heritage Society.

Bequests: A Future GIFT

After a distinguished career, Gammon wanted to make a gift for the future that recognized the role Texas A&M played in his life and honored his father. Through the Texas A&M Foundation, he created a bequest in his estate that will establish the Gammon Family Endowment in History to be used at the discretion of the department head of history. For years to come, this gift will aid in the department’s pursuit of excellence in teaching and research.

A charitable bequest is one of the easiest ways to leave a lasting impact in Aggieland. A bequest may be made in a will or trust and allows you to retain assets during your lifetime. In addition to the support it provides to Texas A&M, a bequest can also lessen your family’s tax burdens.

Bequests can be established as a percentage of your total estate, a specific asset, or a set amount from the balance of your estate. With the help of an advisor, you can simply include language in your will or trust specifying a gift be made to the Texas A&M Foundation as part of your estate plan.

 
Contact:

Angela Throne '03

Business Operations Manager
Office of Gift Planning