H. Samuel Case, McDaniel professor

He taught physiology and exercise science and was an expert in physiology of extreme environments

  • Samuel Case
Samuel Case (Baltimore Sun )
August 31, 2012|By Frederick N. Rasmussen, The Baltimore Sun

H. Samuel Case, who taught human physiology and exercise science at what is now McDaniel College for four decades, died Aug. 22 of complications from leukemia at Carroll Hospice Center's Dove House in Westminster.

The longtime Westminster resident was 70.

"I've been here for two years, but I very quickly came to see how much Sam embodied the essence of McDaniel College. His death is such a painful loss, " said Roger Casey, president of the college.

"In my speeches to prospective students, I tell them that the faculty is not in your life for just four years, but 40. And I got that from observing Sam," he said. "He lived life to the fullest, and his death reminds us of our own mortality and that we only have a short time to make a difference, as Sam did."

"Sam's life is a life worth celebrating. He was a fine human being and totally selfless," said Joan Develin Coley, former McDaniel College president and friend of 40 years.

"When I think of Sam, he led a life that was exemplary and one of service. He never needed or wanted to toot his own horn," she said. "People were just drawn to him. The students loved him and the faculty loved him."

The son of a farmer and an educator, Howard Samuel Case, who never used his first name, was born and raised in Three Bridges, N.J.

After graduating in 1959 from Hunterdon Central Regional High School in Flemington, N.J., where he played football and wrestled, he earned a bachelor's degree in 1963 in physical education at what was then Western Maryland College.

"The starting line of his career emerged by accident while he was still an undergraduate at Western Maryland College," said Joyce Muller, associate vice president of communications and marketing at McDaniel.

"He suffered a concussion while playing football in his sophomore year and opted to assist with coaching, and by the time he graduated, had racked up three years of coaching experience," said Ms. Muller.

Dr. Case, who was known as Sam, taught briefly and coached at the Johns Hopkins University before his former professor, Dick Clower, brought him back to Western Maryland College as a colleague in 1965.

In 1966, he earned a master's degree in physical education from the college, and a Ph.D. in exercise physiology five years later from Ohio State University. In 1988 and 1989, he received two Fulbright nominations to the former Yugoslavia.

Dr. Case quickly rose through the ranks from instructor to full professor at Western Maryland College (renamed McDaniel College in 2002). During the 1990s, he helped to lead curriculum reform while developing and teaching new courses in his department.

"His contribution to the study of human physiology in extreme environments is highly acclaimed, including his research — often participatory research — on competitors in the Iditarod and Iditasport ultramarathon," said Ms. Muller.

"He ran the more than 100 miles of Alaska's tundra in subzero temperatures three times within a decade," she said.

As a result, Dr. Case was able to conduct research projects in Antarctica between 1997 and 1999, funded by the National Science Foundation, which awarded him the Antarctica Service Medal.

This research was also the genesis for "Physiology of Extreme Environments," a college course that Dr. Case taught at McDaniel College.

Dr. Case was the author of nearly 60 articles on physiology and physical fitness, many co-authored with his students who accompanied him on his field expeditions.

"We worked together for decades in the department. He was top-notch in all categories as a professor and was a gifted teacher," said Alex Ober, who retired from the college in 2004, but continues teaching one course there.

"His relational skills were exceptional. He did not want the students to call him Dr. Case or Professor Case, he was just Sam," said Dr. Ober. "They had the rare combination of respect for who he was and what he knew, but they also knew he was available to them as a friend. And they related to him that way."

Dr. Case also served as provost and dean of the faculty from 2000 to 2004.

"When I took over as president of the college, I wanted Sam to serve as provost. He was my choice because he was respected by the faculty, and there was no one else who could have been a better choice. He accepted the job because he wanted to serve the college," said Dr. Coley.

"It was such a good choice that he served for four years. And he served during the name change of the college, which was a real challenging time, and he was a great support for me," said Dr. Coley.

On three occasions, Dr. Case traveled to the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, where he served as a physiologist.

Dr. Case was a member of numerous professional associations related to his field. He had served as chairman of the State Advisory Council on Physical Fitness and had been associate editor of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

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