Samuel Felton

Byline: Class of 1945

Posted: May 13, 2008

Sam Felton may have entered St. Mark’s in 1941 a “tall, skinny, uncoordinated, somewhat immature creature,” as he recalled, but he certainly went on to do great things in athletics and in life. Under the guidance of Athletic Director David Coe, Felton discovered and nurtured a talent for track and field. He set a long-standing record at St. Mark’s for the discus, and while his first attempts at the hammer throw were by his own admission less than spectacular, he later perfected those skills on the track and field teams at Dartmouth and Harvard.

Felton missed his VI Form year at St. Mark’s when he left to join the armed services during the Second World War, but like many of his classmates who had done the same, the young patriot was granted his diploma upon his acceptance into college. Felton joined the US Navy, spending a short time in the V-12 Program at Princeton and then two years at Dartmouth, where he trained to be an officer. He earned a letter for his efforts on the track and field team at Dartmouth, and after the war ended he transferred to Harvard, graduating in 1948.

It was there, at Harvard, that Felton’s gifts were truly cultivated, by Coach Ed Flanagan, who helped transform the young athlete’s appalling “lack of form” in the hammer throw to one worthy of the US Olympic team. Felton earned 4th place in the Olympic Games in London in 1948, and set new records at Harvard for discus, hammer, and the 35 pound weight throw. Over the next several years, he won several US Championships in the hammer and 35 pound weight, and set the record in hammer.

Felton, who had served as Executive Officer of the NROTC at Harvard, continued in the Naval Reserve as he earned his MBA from Harvard Business School, and through his first job at Smith and Kline. In 1952, he was assigned to the US Naval Academy to train for the Helsinki Olympics, where the Soviet Union and the satellite countries competed in the Games for the first time. Felton finished 11th overall in the Games that year.

During the 1948 Games, Felton had struck up a friendship with Imre Nemeth, the Hungarian athlete who had won the hammer throw. Their friendship facilitated an unofficial and friendly cross-cultural exchange between Soviet and American athletes during the 1952 Games at Helsinki. Felton still has the official flag that flew over the Olympic village in 1952; he displays it in his local library every four years as the Games approach.

To accept the award on behalf of Mr. Felton, is his classmate Mr. George Putnam. Mr. Putnam?