Owens, George Washington (Dairying coursework, summer school, 1899)

George Washington Owens, the son of formerly enslaved farmers, was born 21 January 1875, near Alma, Kansas (Owens, 2022). He became the first African American graduate of Kansas State Agricultural College (later Kansas state University) in June 1899. In early 1899, Owens had accepted a position at Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University). For a salary of $48 a month plus board, Owens was to be in charge of the creamery and act as the assistant to Iowa State College alumnus Prof. G. W. Carver. In order to prepare for this position, Owens did additional coursework at Iowa State. Owens recounted his short time at ISC in his autobiography, saying, “Later in August 1899 I spent 2 or 3 weeks in the creamery at the Iowa State College at Ames Iowa to take special work in butter making, cheese making and dairy management and organization before going to Tuskegee Inst, Tuskegee Ala to teach” (Owens, 2022).

On 21 August 1901, Owens married Waddie Logan Hill, a graduate of Clark University in Atlanta, Georgia. The couple had four children, one of whom, Anne Elnora, became a graduate of Iowa State’s M.S. program in Home Economics. Waddie Owens passed away in 1921 following a long struggle with her health after contracting Spanish Influenza (Owens). George married his second wife, Pearl, in 1924.

George Owens worked at Tuskegee with Prof. Carver until taking a job at Virginia Normal and Industrial Institute (later Virginia State University) in 1908 as a professor of agriculture. “Owens became a prominent leader in the development of agricultural education in secondary schools and colleges throughout the South. He played a leading role in founding the New Farmers of Virginia in 1927, and he was credited with writing the original constitution and bylaws of the organization.” (Owens, 2022). After 24 years serving Virginia State College, the state of Virginia, and the farmers of the South, Owens was recognized by the school, which named the agricultural building in his honor. Thirty-one years later and 18 years after his retirement as chair of the department of Agriculture, when a new School of Agriculture building was constructed in 1963, Owens’ name was moved to that building. George Washington Owens died 9 May 1950 in Richmond, VA.


Owens, G.W. (2022). Autobiography of George Washington Owens: First

African American graduate of Kansas State University (A.R. Crawford, Ed.). Center for the Advancement of Digital Scholarship, Kansas State University. https://kstatelibraries.pressbooks.pub/owensproject/. (Original work written 1945)

Massie, Samuel Proctor Jr. (PhD, Organic Chemistry, 1946)

Photo of Samuel P Massie in a lab.

Samuel Proctor Massie, Jr., was born in Argenta, AR, 3 July 1919, to Earlee Lillian Jacko Massie, a teacher, and her husband Samuel Proctor Massie, Sr., charter member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity and AME minister in North Little Rock, who also taught at Dunbar High School there.

Massie Jr graduated from Dunbar High School at the age of 13 after following his teacher mother from class to class, and then worked at a grocery store to earn tuition fees for studying at Dunbar Junior College in Little Rock. He graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry in 1937 at the age of 18, from the Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical, and Normal College.

Massie gained a master’s degree in Chemistry from Fisk University in Tennessee in 1940 on a scholarship, then taught for a year at Arkansas AM&N before going on to study for his PhD at Iowa State University in 1941 and would later complete it in 1946.

In the second year of his doctoral studies in 1943, his father died from an asthma attack. Massie worked in the Ames Laboratory, researching the conversion of uranium isotopes into liquid compounds that could be used in the atomic bomb. He worked on the Manhattan Project from 1943 to 1945. In those intervening years you can read more about Massie’s work on the Manhattan Project from the Ames Research Laboratory.

In 1947, Massie married Gloria Bell Thompkins, who he met after the War when he was teaching at Fisk University. The Massies’ had three sons. They lived in Laurel, Maryland, when he joined the U.S. Naval Academy.

After completing his PhD and teaching for a time at Fisk University, Massie joined the faculty of Langston University in Oklahoma, where he taught from 1947 to 1953. He became the first African-American president of the Oklahoma Academy of Science. In 1953, he returned to Fisk University, where he taught until 1960. In 1954, he published a paper, The Chemistry of Phenothiazine.

In 1960, Massie moved to Washington, D.C., taking on the role of Associate Program Director for Special Projects in Science Education at the National Science Foundation, helping improve college laboratories nationwide.   He was also a professor at Howard University. In 1963, he became the third President of North Carolina College at Durham.

Massie was appointed to the faculty of the United States Naval Academy by President Johnson in 1966, its first African-American professor. During his tenure in Annapolis, Massie served on the academy’s equal employment opportunity committee and helped establish a black studies program. He retired from the post in 1993. Massie subsequently became the vice president of Bingwa Software Company, developing multicultural educational software.  In 1984, he and others were granted a patent for a chemical compound to treat gonorrhea, malaria, and bacterial infections.  In 1994, the U.S. Department of Energy created the Dr. Samuel P. Massie Chair of Excellence, a $14.7 million grant to nine historically black colleges and one for Hispanic students to further environmental research. His portrait was hung in the National Academy of Sciences Gallery in 1995.  In 1998, he was voted by the readers of Chemical and Engineering News as one of the top 75 distinguished contributors to chemistry in history.

His wife died on January 22, 2005, and Massie, who had dementia, died soon after, on April 10, 2005, aged 85. He also self-published a short autobiography with the collaboration of Robert C. Hayden in 2005.


Photo Credit: US Naval Academy(N.D.)  Samuel P Massie in a lab. Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Samuel_P_Massie_in_lab.jpg

“Ames Laboratory History Profile: Samuel P. Massie.” Ames Laboratory, 8 Feb. 2021, www.ameslab.gov/news/ames-laboratory-history-profile-samuel-p-massie.

“Samuel P. Massie.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 30 Jan. 2024, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_P._Massie.

McDew, Mary Leona Bradley (B.S., Family and Consumer Sciences, 1945)

Mary Leona Bradley, born on the Rose farm, East Vaolinia Township, Cass County, MI, on 23 August 1923, was the fourth child of William Bradley and his wife Frieda Moxley. Mary graduated from high school in South Bend, IN, in 1941, entered the University of Michigan in 1943, later transferring to Iowa State College (“Mary Leona McDew,” 2007). While at Iowa State, Mary was one of several Black Students not allowed to live in the Home Management House as part of the Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) degree program (Ross, 1997).

Shortly after attaining her FCS Bachelor’s Degree in 1945, Mary began teaching at Georgia State College for Colored youth (Now Savannah State University). Her marriage to Dr. Stephen M. McDew occurred in December of that year. The couple had two daughters. (“Mary Leona McDew,” 2007).

Mary Bradley McDew died 21 March 2007 in Savannah, GA. (“Mary Leona McDew,” 2007).


Mary Leona Mcdew. (2007, 22 March). Legacy. Accessed 22 February 2024. https://www.legacy.com/us/obituaries/legacyremembers/mary-mcdew-obituary?id=29357250

Ross, Ann. (1997, 22 April). Personal communication to Farwell T. Brown. Ames History Museum Collection.

Tutt, Harold Lindsay (enrolled 1923-25)

Headshot of Harold Lindsay Tutt

Harold Lindsay Tutt was born on 10 December 1903 to Ryle Tutt and Minnie Wynn, in Higbee, Missouri. A member of Alpha-Nu Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha while at ISC, Tutt was a fraternity brother of John “Jack” Trice. At the start of October 1923, Tutt was the newly appointed Alpha Nu Chapter Correspondent to The Sphinx, looking forward to a banner year, unsuspecting of the tragedy to come: the death of Brother Trice on 8 October of that year (Tutt, 1923). Within the coming weeks, Harold had alerted Cora to the dire health of her injured husband (Greene, 1988); joined the funeral party that accompanied Jack’s remains to Hiram, Ohio, for burial; helped to organize the program for the African American community’s memorial service at the home of Mr. and Mrs. E. L. Gater in Ames on 21 October; and reported to those assembled on the campus memorial service and the Ohio burial service (“Tribute Is Paid,” 1923).

The Alpha-Nu Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha expressed condolences when Tutt’s father passed away in January of 1925 (“Alpha Nu Chapter, Des Moines, Iowa,” 1925), and by the time of the Iowa Census that year, Harold was rooming at 2522 Chamberlain Street, the Ames home of his grandmother, Louise Wynn, mother-in-law of the home’s owner, Arthur Marshall. Living with them in 1925 were Tutt’s fellow ISC students Holloway Smith, the second African American football player at ISC; Benjamin Crutcher; and Thomas Whibby.

Tutt left ISC before graduating and completed his college career at Michigan State College (MSC; now Michigan State University) in 1927. There he sought a degree in physical education, not completing it due to the death of his fiancee (“The Onlooker,” 1951). He went on to work in Lansing, MI, as a porter in Al and Paul’s shop and, before that, The Looking Glass barber shop. According to the MSC alumni magazine, he was well-known in the community for his tutoring of African American youths at the college and coaching of Lincoln Community Center sports teams in basketball, softball, and baseball, among others. (“Necrology,” 1951).

As the Lansing State Journal reported upon his death, “[Harold Lindsay] Tutt became known as a gentleman’s gentleman and earned the affection of all races and creeds” (“The Onlooker,” 1951, p. 46). When he passed away on 15 April 1951, at St. Lawrence Hospital in Lansing, Michigan, his death was mourned by many members of the Lansing community, Black and White alike, because Tutt was such a likable man. He is buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Lansing (Find a Grave, 2012).


Photo credit: Alpha Nu chapter State College of Iowa, Des Moines, Iowa. (1923, June). The Sphinx, 9(3), p. 17. ISSUU. Retrieved from https://issuu.com/apa1906network/docs/192300903

Alpha-Nu chapter, Des Moines, Iowa. (1925, Feb.). The Sphinx, 11(1), p. 40. ISSUU. Retrieved from https://issuu.com/apa1906network/docs/192501101

Find a grave [database and images]. (2012, Mar. 14). Memorial page for Harold Lindsay Tutt (1903–1951), Find a Grave memorial ID 86762358. Retrieved from https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/86762358/harold-lindsay-tutt. Maintained by JLL (contributor 47314524).

Necrology. (1951, June 1). The Record. p. 13. Michigan State College. Retrieved from https://projects.kora.matrix.msu.edu/files/162-565-904/19510601sm.pdf

The onlooker. (1951, Apr. 19). Lansing State Journal, p. 46. Newspapers Online. Retrieved from https://www.newspapers.com/clip/14055947/lansing-state-journal/#

Tribute is paid to late football star: Negroes honor dead in fitting memorial service. (1923, Oct. 22). The Ames Daily Tribune and Ames Evening Times, p. 1. Newspaper Archive. Retrieved from https://newspaperarchive.com/ames-daily-tribune-and-ames-evening-times-oct-22-1923-p-1/

Tutt, Harold L. (1923, Oct.). Alpha Nu chapter, Des Moines, Iowa. The Sphinx, 9(4), p. 3. ISSUU. Retrieved from https://issuu.com/apa1906network/docs/192300904

Trice, John “Jack” G. (B.S., Animal Husbandry, 2023; d. 1923)

John “Jack” G. Trice was born 12 May 1902 in Hiram, Ohio, to Green Trice, a farmer, and Anna W. Trice. When Jack entered Iowa State College in January 1922, he was enrolled in a two-year non-collegiate Agricultural program so that he could obtain the necessary credits in missing preparatory classwork to enter the Animal Husbandry degree program. He attained that goal in Summer 1923 after a strong performance in his preparatory courses. Trice was active in the the Alpha-Nu Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha in 1923, belonging alongside Iowa State brothers A.C. Aldridge, J. R. Otis, FD. Patterson, L. A. Potts, J. L. Lockett, J. W. Fraser, and R. B. Atwood (Aldridge, 1923).

In Fall 1923, Trice’s transcript notes that he “Dropped” his 15 1/3 credits of coursework on 9 October 1923. What that transcript note doesn’t say is that Trice’s credits were dropped because Jack, an athletic standout and the first African American member of the Iowa State football squad, had died on 8 October 1923 after injuries sustained in the October 6th Iowa State-University of Minnesota football match-up in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Iowa State College Department of Hygiene issued a statement concerning Trice’s official cause of death, attributing it to “Traumatic Peritonitis, following injury to abdomen in football game” (quoted in Schwieder, 2010, p.39). The tragedy of this event is compounded by the aspirations and pride expressed by Trice’s fraternity brothers. Brother A. C. Aldridge, writing for the fraternity’s journal, The Sphinx, in June of 1923, only months before Trice’s death, praised Trice’s abilities as an all-around athlete and his potential to be one of the athletic greats:

Among the new brothers that have filled the ranks of Alpha Nu is brother John Trice, who is destined to reach great heights in the athletic world. Winning his numerals in football last fall, did not satisfy Brother Trice. This spring, his work on the “Prep” track squad was a revelation to the most keen fans of that sport. He has frequently thrown the discuss (sic) one hundred and thirty-five feet and passing the forty foot mark with the shot, seems to be an easy matter with him. Trice has not only shown ability on the track and gridiron, but his aquatic habits have obtained for him membership to the Iowa State College Lifesaving Corps. (Aldridge, 1923).

Indeed, Jack had won the shot put event in the Missouri Valley Conference meet as a freshman in 1922 . He’d also been a solid academic performer, with average grades of 93 (Tutt, 1923b).

Jack Trice’s memorial service on central campus at ISC, on 9 October 1923, was attended by several thousand people, according to news reports, no small number for a school with slightly over 3,000 students (Schwieder, 2010). The African American community of Ames held its own memorial service, organized by Jack’s fraternity brothers, on Sunday, October 21, at the home of Mr. and Mrs. E. L. Gater (“Tribute Is Paid,” 1923). Money was collected at each event to help cover funeral expenses and to transport Jack’s body to Ohio. On the trip back to Hiram, Trice’s wife, Cora; his mother, Anna; and others from ISC, were accompanied by Trice’s fraternity brother Harold L. Tutt (Schwieder, 2010). John G. “Jack” Trice is buried in Fairview Cemetery in Hiram, Ohio.

Following Trice’s death, his teammates on the 1923 ISC football squad installed a bronze plaque in the Iowa State College gymnasium bearing the words of Jack’s last letter, found in his coat pocket after he passed (Tutt, 1924). The December 1923 edition of the fraternity’s national magazine, The Sphinx, was dedicated to Brother Trice’s memory (The Sphinx, 1923).

In October 2023, a posthumous Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Animal Husbandry was conferred upon John “Jack” Trice by Iowa State University President Wendy Wintersteen. This degree conferral occurred as part of the culmination of the year-long Jack Trice 100 Commemoration, a series of events intended to honor Jack’s brief life and his enduring legacy. The Jack Trice 100 kicked off in October 2022 with a ceremony, the dedication of Jack Trice Way (the section of S. 4th Street between University Boulevard and Beach Avenue, adjacent to the entry to the Jack Trice Stadium complex), and the installation of the sculpture “Breaking Barriers” (sculptor Ivan Toth Depeña, American, b. 1972) in the Albaugh Family Plaza north of Jack Trice Stadium. Throughout the year, lectures, art installations, and historical exhibits, among other events, marked the centennial of Jack’s death.


Photo Credit: Photo of Alpha-Nu chapter State College of Iowa, Des Moines, Iowa. (1923, June). The Sphinx, 9(3), p. 17. ISSUU. Retrieved from https://issuu.com/apa1906network/docs/192300903

Aldridge, A. C. (1923, June). Alpha Nu chapter State College of Iowa, Des Moines, Iowa. The Sphinx, 9(3), p. 17. ISSUU. Retrieved from https://issuu.com/apa1906network/docs/192300903

Greene, Cora Mae Starland Trice. (1988). Cora Mae Trice Greene letter to David Lendt, August 3, 1988, p. 3. Iowa State University Library Digital Collections. Retrieved from http://n2t.net/ark:/87292/w9n872z9b

In memoriam. (1923, Dec.). The Sphinx, 9(5), p. 2. ISSUU. Retrieved from https://issuu.com/apa1906network/docs/192300905

Schwieder, D. (2010). The life and legacy of Jack Trice. The Annals of Iowa 69(4), p. 379-417. doi:  https://doi.org/10.17077/0003-4827.1474

Tribute is paid to late football star: Negroes honor dead in fitting memorial service. (1923, Oct. 22). The Ames Daily Tribune and Ames Evening Times, p. 1. Newspaper Archive. Retrieved from https://newspaperarchive.com/ames-daily-tribune-and-ames-evening-times-oct-22-1923-p-1/

Tutt, Harold L. (1923a, Oct.). Alpha Nu chapter, Des Moines, Iowa. The Sphinx, 9(4), p. 3. ISSUU. Retrieved from https://issuu.com/apa1906network/docs/192300904

Tutt, Harold L. (1923b, Dec.). Alpha Nu chapter, Des Moines, Iowa. The Sphinx, 9(5), p. 28. ISSUU. Retrieved from https://issuu.com/apa1906network/docs/192300905

Tutt, Harold L. (1924, June). Alpha-Nu chapter, Des Moines, Iowa. The Sphinx, 10(3), p. 17. ISSUU. Retrieved from https://issuu.com/apa1906network/docs/192401003