Samuel W. Seidel, retired president and chief executive officer of Peninsula Insurance Co. who endowed Salisbury State University's school of education, died Wednesday of cancer at his Salisbury home. He was 78.
Mr. Seidel founded the Sam Seidel Agency in 1952 and the Peninsula Insurance Co. in 1960. In 1978, he formed the Seidel Cos., which relatives said became the largest privately owned insurance operation in Maryland.
After the company was sold in 1988, he remained president, CEO and chairman of the board until he retired in 1996.
Mr. Seidel was well-known for civic and philanthropic efforts in Salisbury, leading fund-raising drives for the Salvation Army, Joseph House and Salisbury State University. In 1997, he made a $1 million endowment to the university, which named its school of education the Seidel School of Education and Professional Studies.
His other philanthropic interests included the Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore, the Mid-Shore Community Foundation in Easton, the University of Maryland Foundation in College Park, the Near Israel Seminary in Baltimore, Sports for Israel, Maccabiah USA and Beth Israel Synagogue in Salisbury.
The Salisbury native was a graduate of Wicomico High School and earned a bachelor's degree in education from the University of Maryland, College Park in 1943.
He served in the Navy during World War II aboard the USS Leon in the Pacific Theater. He earned five battle stars and was discharged with the rank of lieutenant in 1946.
After the war, he taught and coached basketball and soccer at Wicomico High School.
"Sam imparted values, values which still guide me in my professional and personal life," U.S. Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, a former student, said this year in an address at Salisbury State University.
In 1951, Mr. Seidel coached the U.S. All-Star Basketball team on its South American tour.
He had served as a member of the Salisbury City Council and had been president of the Salvation Army Advisory Board.
During President Jimmy Carter's administration, he served on the White House Council on Small Business, and in 1987 was awarded the Martin Luther King Award for outstanding community service.
Services were held yesterday at Salisbury University.
He is survived by his wife of 47 years, the former Marilyn Cahall; two sons, Michael P. Seidel of Atlanta and Howard F. Seidel of College Station, Texas; a daughter, Jennifer S. Duhe of Salisbury; a brother, Louis S. Seidel of Bel Air; and seven grandchildren.