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Samuel Massenberg Sr.

1927 - 2014 | Obituary Condolences
Samuel Massenberg Sr. Obituary
Samuel Massenberg Sr

Hampton - Dr. Samuel E. Massenberg, Sr.

Lieutenant Colonel (Retired), United States Air Force

Loving father, grandfather and great-grandfather of Hampton, VA went home to be with the Lord on January 8, 2014 following a long illness at the age of 86. He was born on October 27, 1927 in Detroit, MI. Dr. Massenberg graduated from Miller High School and attended Wayne State University leaving early to pursue his love of flying. He joined the U.S. Air Force December 1950 to train as a pilot. Sam served his country with distinction punctuated by being incarcerated in a brutal POW camp after being shot down over North Korea.

Sam's love for flying came early in life. As a teenager, he worked at a local airport, washing airplanes. When the airport went bankrupt he traded continuing to wash planes for flying lessons. Before age 16, he was flying between Detroit and Indianapolis.

At 21 Sam attended flight school at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, and became one of the few black pilots in the military at the time. He went on to train B-29 crews.

On Jan. 10, 1953, Sam and his crew of 13 were shot down while flying a combat mission over North Korea. He remained a prisoner of war for the next eight months.

In August 1953, he returned to his family and continued his distinguished military career obtaining a bachelor's degree from Ohio State University in 1957, completed a tour at Tempelhof Airbase, Berlin, Germany, served as the Professor of Aerospace Studies at North Carolina A&T retiring from the United States Air Force with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in 1969 as the 4th Tactical Fighter Wing, Maintenance Officer in Goldsboro, North Carolina.

Dr. Massenberg loved education and the opportunities it creates. His passion for helping young people achieve and succeed in the academic setting led him to serve as the Dean of Men for Hampton Institute (University) from 1969 to 1980. During his tenure he obtained his Ph.D. in Education from Virginia Tech University.

The next phase of his career spanned 26 years as the Director of Education for the Langley National Aerospace and Space Administration where he achieved the level of Senior Executive Service (SES).

In 1986 Sam established the Langley Aerospace Research Student Scholar (LARSS) program, which fosters excellence in students with a focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). The LARSS program was listed in the Princeton Review's "America's Top 100 Internships" for three consecutive years. A distance learning program he launched, "NASA CONNECT," won an Emmy Award and was recognized as "Best in the USA" by the US Distance Learning Association for two consecutive years.

Dr. Samuel Massenberg, Sr. was a proud member of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.

Most recently Dr. Massenberg served on the Hampton School Board and the Board of the Library of Virginia.

In lieu of flowers, please send donations to: The National Space Grant Foundation, Attn: Dr. Samuel Massenberg, Sr. Memorial Fund (Directed to the Langley Aerospace Research Student Scholars (LARSS) Program), 645 9th Avenue SE, Suite 149, Albany, Oregon 97322

Dr. Massenberg was preceded in death by his loving parents, Zannie and Mary (Henderson) Massenberg, Sr., and his sister Pauline Massenberg. He is survived by his son Rev. Samuel Massenberg, Jr (daughter-in-law Lulu), daughter Dr. Mirian Graddick-Weir (son-in-law Michael), grandchildren; Ligeia Robinson, Dr. Tawanna Massenberg, Tiffany Graddick Esq., Danielle Graddick, Monique Weir, and Cameron Weir and great grandchildren; Zamiah Robinson and Johnathon Weir, brother; Zannie Massenberg, Jr., niece; Lori Haywood and a host of family and friends

Services at Cooke Bros. Funeral Chapel, Newport News, VA January 12, Viewing 11-4 p.m. Wake 4-5 p.m. Funeral January 13. Hampton University Memorial Church, Viewing 8-10 a.m. Funeral Service 10 a.m. Interment will be at Arlington National Cemetery, Washington DC at a later date.
Published in The Virginian Pilot on Jan. 12, 2014
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