Samuel Frazier Pryor Jr. (1898-1986)
Samuel Frazier Pryor Jr. was born in Ferguson, Missouri, on March 1st, 1898. When his father became the general manager of Remington Arms, the family relocated to Greenwich, Connecticut. Sam Jr., 16 at the time, was sent off to the exclusive prep school, Taft School, with his brother. In 1917, Sam Jr. enrolled in Yale College, where he started relationships that lasted for the rest of his life.
After Yale, a trip around the world, and working in the railroad business, Pryor helped arrange the financing that sent Lindbergh across the Atlantic in 1927. Pryor was lured into aviation from the steel industry in 1940 by a Yale classmate, Juan Trippe, Pan Am's founder. That same year he managed the East Coast portion of Wendell Willkie's unsuccessful presidential campaign.
During WWII Pryor was placed in charge of developing worldwide routes that became air corridors for military brass and American spies. During the war he also directed the building of 56 secret airfields in North Africa and Latin America and was later awarded the Legion of Merit by President Harry S. Truman. He also was given the Harman Trophy for service to aviation.
Always ready for more, he became a special agent of the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, taking part in a raid on the group known as the French Connection. Though there is not much record of it, Pryor was well connected to the Intelligence Community, Serving in various Law Enforcement & Investigative Agencies, including a stint at the fledgling Philippine National Bureau of Investigation (their FBI) in the late 1940's, and a Serving as a US Delegate to the 1969 Interpol 38th General Assembly in Mexico City.
Whether in politics, aviation, business, crime fighting, or conservation, Sam Jr. carved his own path with outlandish enthusiasm. "Luck doesn't just happen," he told his children, "You make it happen." His lack of pretension and extraordinarily warm personality garnered him a vast array of friendships and the respect of the famous and powerful. His friends, including two-time Olympian Eddie Eagan, champion boxer Gene Tunney, inventor Carbine Williams, explorer Wendell Phillips, showman Robert "Believe It or Not" Ripley, playwright Clare Booth Luce, presidents Herbert Hoover, Richard Nixon, and George H. W. Bush, and aviator Charles Lindbergh, all left their respective marks on history.
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