Michael "Mike" Anthony Samuels

Mike Samuels (April 14, 1939- August 8, 2022)

The Class lost one of its great leaders on August 8th. Mike Samuels died of an apparent heart attack at his home in Washington, D.C.

Mike represented the best of “run silent, run deep”. He rarely spoke of his many achievements and long-standing service to our class. He came to Yale from Youngstown, Ohio, the first in his family to attend college. He was active in the Class as an undergraduate, as host of two class mini-reunions in Washington D.C., and as the co-author of our 50th reunion “Yale 1961 – 1000 Voices”. Mike became a leading contributor to every issue the Class Council faced for decades.

After Yale, he volunteered to teach in a high school in rural Nigeria. That kindled his love for Africa. He received a PhD in African History from Columbia, where his thesis focused on Angola and was written in Portuguese. After serving in the White House as the top aide to the Counsellor for Economic Policy for President Nixon, he became Ambassador to Sierra Leone, at that time being America’s youngest ambassador. He then became the Director of Third World Studies at Georgetown University’s Center for Strategic and International Studies for many years, after which he was approved by the Senate in the mid-eighties to become the Deputy U.S. Trade Representative and Ambassador to GATT. After he left the federal government, Mike founded a highly successful and acclaimed international trade and politics consulting firm in D.C. One of his later life rewards, which he cherished, was being invited back to Angola 40 years after writing his thesis, and receiving his PHD, to deliver it in a special ceremony – in Portuguese.

There was a reason many of us did not know of Mike’s many accomplishments. He was not that kind of a guy. There was nothing pretentious about him. Mike was interested in people and cared about them. He was a great listener; he gave you his total focus. And, when he did not agree, he would explain why. Disagreements never interfered with his friendships. He became a great friend to those who were fortunate to spend time with him. He exuded a true sincerity that made us all happy to be in his company. A day with Mike and Lena was like a fun day at the beach.

Mike will be sorely missed by us all. He may never again be where he once was but will always be wherever we are.

Mike is survived by his wife, Lena, his son, Joel, a grandchild and his Yale ’61 friends. Lena’s address is 4301 Military Rd. NW PH03;Washington, DC 200152140.