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Samuel A. Tubman IV, Eastern Shore Realtor and decorated World War II veteran, dies

Samuel A. Tubman IV, Eastern Shore Realtor and decorated World War II veteran, dies
Samuel A. Tubman IV was a retired Eastern Shore Realtor and a decorated World War II veteran. (Baltimore Sun)

Samuel A. "Alex" Tubman IV, a retired Eastern Shore Realtor and a decorated World War II veteran who stormed ashore with the first wave of troops at Normandy on D-Day, died of heart failure Aug. 20 at Compass Hospice in Centreville.

The longtime Millington resident was 90.

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The son of Samuel A. Tubman III, a trucking executive, and Champe Barry Tubman, a Realtor, Samuel Alexander Tubman IV was born in Baltimore and raised in Ruxton.

"There were six of us as kids growing up in Ruxton. That's how long I've known him," said his friend Dr. William B. Grant of Williamstown, Mass.

"Alex was very bright, and my remembrance of him was that he was very thoughtful and deliberate," said Dr. Grant, who retired from Williams College, where he had taught biology for 34 years. "He was the kind of person who didn't do anything in a fly-by-night manner. He was a wonderful chap, a substantial person, and one of my oldest friends."

"Alex was always quiet and very friendly," said W. James Price IV, another childhood friend, who lives in Towson.

As a student at Boys' Latin School, Mr. Tubman played varsity lacrosse, basketball and football. He was the lacrosse team captain in 1943 and won the silver lacrosse pin for team spirit.

After graduating from Boys' Latin in 1943, he enlisted in the Army and after completing infantry training was sent to Europe.

As a member of Company A, 1st Battalion, 359th Regiment of the 90th Infantry Division, Mr. Tubman was in the first wave that landed at Utah Beach on June 6, 1944.

In the initial chaos after the landing, Mr. Tubman dug into a foxhole.

"They were bringing up fresh troops from time to time, and they'd run by Alex who was watching them go by at eye level," said Mr. Price, a retired stockbroker, and former Alex. Brown & Sons partner.

"Suddenly he sees a pair of feet go by and he said, 'No one has feet like that except Eddie Cassard,' and that's who it was," said Mr. Price. "Chase Ridgely Jr., who died years ago, told me that story."

Edwin C.M. Cassard had been a childhood friend and a Boys' Latin classmate and fellow lacrosse player.

After taking defensive action along the Douve River, the 90th Infantry Division encountered stiff enemy resistance as it attacked on July 3 and attempted to clear the Foret de Mont-Castre, better known as Hill 122, which was a strategic point of the Germans' Mahlman Line and considered the "gate to victory," according to the "90th Regiment Division History."

"The cream of the German armies manned the gate, while guns bristled from every hedge, from each ravine, from every tree and bush," according to the history.

"The defending forces had sworn an oath of fealty to their Fuehrer and determined to stand to the death. Beyond this line no man would pass. … The 1st Battalion of the 359th encountered fanatical opposition in the orchards near the village of Pretot."

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Mr. Tubman and his regiment were surrounded and cut off for five days as the bloody battle raged on and the Germans demanded their surrender. They countered the demands by fighting on.

They successfully repulsed 15 counterattacks by elements of the 2nd SS Panzer Division and the 15th Parachute Regiment.

By the time the battle concluded on July 12, the regiment had lost 57 percent of its company personnel.

Mr. Tubman, who was severely wounded when he was hit in his wrist and also suffered from severe hearing loss, was eventually removed from the battlefield.

For his actions at Hill 122, Mr. Tubman was awarded the Bronze Star, for valor and for his leadership in taking Hill 122, and three Battle Stars. His other decorations included the Purple Heart, Invasion Arrowhead and the Combat Infantry Badge.

"A lot of people who had been in the war just didn't talk about it. Discussion of it kind of went away because so many of our generation had been in it," said Mr. Price.

Mr. Tubman was an active member of the Disabled American Veterans and the American Legion.

After the war, Mr. Tubman entered the University of Virginia, where he played varsity lacrosse and earned a bachelor's degree in 1950.

In 1950, he married Jean Rowland Myer of Philadelphia.

Mr. Tubman began his business career with Kennedy-White Foreign Freight Forwarding Co. in Baltimore, eventually rising to become the company's export manager.

In 1956, he and his wife moved to Centreville and after earning his real estate broker's license established Tubman Insurance.

"One of the deals that he worked on and was most proud of was when the Russians acquired land at Pioneer Point between the Chester and Corsica rivers," said Mrs. Tubman.

In 1972, the Russian Embassy purchased 45 acres for $1.96 million that included a 37-room Georgian mansion, Hartefeld Hall on the Chester River, and another mansion called Mostly Hall.

The 1,600-acre waterfront estate had a colorful past. Pioneer Point had been owned and developed in the 1920s by John Jacob Raskob, financier of the Empire State Building in New York.

In addition to being occupied by high Russian Embassy staff and counselors in Washington, the estate also was the summer home of Anatoly Dobrynin, the Soviet Union's ambassador to the United States from 1962 to 1986.

"On his trips to the United States, Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko reportedly enjoys getting away from the strain of diplomatic meetings for a few hours rest at the waterfront estate," reported the old Sun Magazine in 1974.

"I remember Alex getting phone calls about the property from Mr. Dobrynin and other Russian officials early on Sunday mornings," said Mrs. Tubman.

Mr. Tubman immersed himself in the civic life of Queen Anne's County, where he was a charter member and treasurer of the Queen Anne's County Historical Society. As secretary of the Centreville Chamber of Commerce, he played an instrumental role in creating the town's retirement plans for its employees.

Mr. Tubman was a member of the Bachelors Cotillon, L'Hirondelle Club and the Corsica River Yacht Club. He was a sailor, horseback rider and hunter.

Mr. Tubman was a member of Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church, 508 High St., Chestertown, where a memorial service will be offered at 11 a.m. Sept. 12.

In addition to his wife of 65 years, survivors include a son, Sandy Tubman of New Albany, Ind.; a daughter, Dr. Judy Tubman of Millington; and three grandchildren.

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