Dr. Samuel Gwinn of Newark, former director of University of Delaware Cooperative Extension and former state director of Delaware 4-H, died April 10 at the age of 92. A leading and beloved figure in the Delaware agriculture community, he was known affectionately as “Mr. 4-H.”
Born in Meadowbridge, W.Va., Dr. Gwinn began his lifelong interest in agriculture and animal husbandry on his family’s 200-acre farm in Lockbridge, W.Va. At the age of 10, he joined a 4-H club and participated in corn, pig and vegetable projects, as well as judging contests, camps and other 4-H activities.
Dr. Gwinn served in the U.S. Army during World War II and received a Purple Heart. After the war, he received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from West Virginia University.
In 1948, Dr. Gwinn began working for UD Cooperative Extension as a Sussex County Cooperative Extension agent. He was appointed Delaware’s 4-H director in 1951. From 1955 to 1957, Dr. Gwinn took a sabbatical to earn a doctorate from the University of Wisconsin. In 1962 he became the director of UD Cooperative Extension, a position he held until his retirement 22 years later.
Dr. Gwinn was responsible for a broad range of accomplishments but was said to be most proud of his work in creating the 4-H overnight camp at Camp Barnes in Assawoman Bay Wildlife Area. Prior to Dr. Gwinn’s arrival in Delaware in 1948, Delaware had no overnight summer 4-H camp.
Dr. Gwinn established the Delaware 4-H Foundation, the fundraising arm of the organization that helps to pay for special programs, including sponsoring children who couldn’t otherwise afford to participate in 4-H activities.
As a result of his many accomplishments, Dr. Gwinn was named to the National 4-H Hall of Fame in 2003, the first Delawarean to be awarded that honor.
His survivors include his wife of 63 years, Dorothy Stanley Gwinn, whom he met at a 4-H camp in West Virginia; his son, Stanley M. Gwinn and his wife, Megan, of Newark, Del; and grandchildren, Jessica A. Gwinn and Ryan S. Gwinn of Pike Creek, Del. He was preceded in death by his brothers, Lonzo, Aubrey, Lester, Flonzie, Henry, and Thomas, and by his sisters, Icie and Dora.
A funeral service will be held at noon, Saturday, April 14, at Newark United Methodist Church, 69 East Main St., Newark, Del, where visitation will begin at 11 a.m. A committal service will be held at 10 a.m., Tuesday, April 17, at the Delaware Veterans Memorial Cemetery, 2465 Chesapeake City Road, Bear, Del.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Delaware 4-H Foundation, 113 Townsend Hall, 531 South College Ave., University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716 (delaware4hfoundation.org / 302-831-2509).