Samuel L. Green, 79, art professor at Morgan State, museum curator

February 08, 2004|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Samuel L. Green, a retired Morgan State University art professor who was also a museum curator, died Feb. 1, apparently of a heart attack, at his Reservoir Hill home. He was 79.

He was born in Waycross, Ga., and earned his bachelor's and master's degrees from Howard University in Washington, where he designed robes for the school's choir and costumes for student theatrical productions.

He was then named a Fulbright scholar and studied at the University of London's Courtauld Institute of Art. From 1953 to 1955 he was a curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. While in London, he received a certificate from the International Institute for the Conservation of Museum Objects.

In 1956 he received a John Hay Whitney Opportunity Fellowship, which enabled him to travel throughout Europe. He held internships at the Gemeenmuseum in The Hague, Netherlands, and at the Vatican Museum.

Colleagues said Mr. Green was one of the first African-American art curators to train in Europe. He collected Japanese prints and paintings.

"He had friends all over," said retired Circuit Judge Solomon Baylor, a friend who lives in Parkville. "He was a pleasant, friendly, warmhearted guy."

"He knew so many people, I don't think he ever met a stranger," said Ernestein Walker Baylor, Judge Baylor's wife. "He had broad interests that included classical music and fine cooking, too. He entertained elegantly and was a refined, loyal friend."

He joined the Morgan faculty in 1966, and taught art history and design. He catalogued what is now known as the James E. Lewis Museum Fine Arts Collection and was curator of the university's art collection.

"We considered him the conscience of this department," said Kenneth Royster, Morgan's art department chairman. "Whenever we had to grapple with problems, academic or students problems, he was the one who was well-grounded and had a solution."

"He was a people person, with an outgoing personality, who would give you anything he owned," said Mavis Lewis, a friend who lives in Columbia. "He was popular with students and was often their favorite teacher. He also kept in contact with his students after they had graduated."

Mr. Green was co-designer of the Iva G. Jones Medallion, awarded yearly to an outstanding faculty member.

"He was the first curator of the Morgan art gallery," said Gabriel Tenabe, director of the Morgan Office of Museums and one of his students. "He was always active in the faculty senate and known to so many students.

In the 1980s he received the Phelps Stokes Award for a travel research project in West Africa. He retired from teaching in 1986.

He then joined the Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture, and the boards of the Carroll Park Foundation in Southwest Baltimore and the Municipal Opera Company. He was also a member of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, the music committee of Lochearn Presbyterian Church and the Ages on Stages group.

A memorial service was held yesterday at the Morgan State University Christian Center.

Survivors include an uncle, aunt, nephew and three nieces.

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