Dr. John E. Saffell|
Dr. John E. Saffell, age 97, Professor of History Emeritus at Mount Union College, passed away at 1:55 p.m., Tuesday, June 24, 2014, at Alliance Community Hospital.
He was born July 22, 1916, in North Georgetown, Ohio, to Byron E. and Isabella (Anderson) Saffell.
He graduated from Alliance High School in 1934 and Mount Union College magna cum laude in 1937. Early in his career he was principal of East Greenville School (Stark County, Ohio) and taught at Harvey Senior High School in Painesville.
During World War II, John served in the Southwest Pacific and upon discharge in Tokyo, accepted civilian appointment as an analyst in the Intelligence Section at General McArthur's Headquarters, just across the street from the Imperial Palace. He arrived in Japan shortly after that country's surrender and knew many seminal figures in the early part of the occupation period. His particular responsibility was to monitor left-wing political forces and in that way came to know such people as Nosaka Sanzo, leader of the Japan Communist party as well as Kato Kanji and Suzuki Mozaburo, major left-wing Socialists.
It is of some historical interest that during part of his time at SCAP (Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers) his friend and supervisor was Dr. E. Herbert Norman, later believed by many to have been a high ranking member of the KGB. In spite of such early relationships, Dr. Saffell's students categorized his political sympathies as conservative.
While in Japan, he sponsored the translation of Gakudo Jiden (autobiography of Ozaki Yukio). It was Ozaki, vocal critic of the Tojo Regime, who as Mayor of Tokyo, sent the cherry tree as a gift to Washington D.C.
Following his father's death, Dr. Saffell returned to Ohio in October of 1947, to manage his family's cattle farm. The next year, he was appointed to the faculty at Mount Union College where he taught history until his retirement in 1982 at which time he was serving as department chairman. At Mount Union, he was an early advocate of non-Western studies and thus helped pave the way for the contemporary emphasis on those areas.
He and his wife, Helen, who taught English at the college for 34 years, were leaders in establishing Mount Union's sister-college relationship with Baika College in Osaka, Japan, where both lectured in 1980.
Dr. Saffell received a PH.D from Western Reserve in 1965. His dissertation, The Ashantee War of 1873-1874, dealt with a little war on the West Coast of Africa, and this study further contributed to his interest in the non-Western World and strengthened his insistence at Mount Union on the importance of non-Western studies, which are now a significant part of the total program.
Dr. Saffell wrote Wake the Echoes, an updated history of Mount Union College, which appeared in 1996, the year of Mount Union's sesquicentennial. At that time, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters by his Alma Mater. He was a 50-year member of the American Historical Association, the Organization of American Histories and the Ohio Academy of History.
He was a 32nd degree Mason and a member of the First United Presbyterian Church in Alliance.
He and his wife, Helen (Weaver) Saffell, were married October 8, 1955. They were both graduates of Mount Union College and both taught there for 34 years. They gained satisfaction during their retirement years from the fact that by thrift and good fortune they were able to return to the college all the dollars, perhaps more, that they were paid during their combined 68 years of teaching there.
Mount Union College was central in their lives and any memorial contributions may be sent to the now named, University of Mount Union, 1972 Clark St., Alliance, OH 44601.
Survivors include his sister, Virginia Saffell McCready; her children, Mary Ann McCready (Roy) Wunsch, James (Shari) McCready, John (Christine) McCready; sister-in-law, Artina Powell; her children, Pam Lorenz and Thomas Scott Powell; nephew, George Gwin; niece, Kathy (Tom) White; first cousin, Ruth Ann Smith; grand-nieces, Chelsea McCready, Dominique McCready, Ashley Gwin and Melia Lorenz; grand-nephews, Anthony (Kaitlin) McCready, Ryan White, Nicolaus White, Garrett Lorenz, Kadin Powell and Makewin Powell.
Dr. Saffell was preceded in death by his parents; and his wife, Helen Saffell who died January 28, 2001.
Memorial services will be held 10 a.m., Tuesday, July 15, 2014 at Dewald Chapel at the University of Mount Union with the Rev. Marty Cash Burless officiating. Interment will be at Fairmount Memorial Park. Arrangements are by Cassaday-Turkle-Christian Funeral Home, 75 S. Union Ave., Alliance, OH 44601.
Friends may register online at www.ctcfuneral.com.
Published in Akron Beacon Journal on June 30, 2014