Feb. 9, 2007
Dr. William Henry Waddell IV
The NAACP celebrates the life of Dr. William Henry Waddell IV, the nation’s second-oldest known Buffalo Soldier, a pioneer in the field of veterinary medicine and a lifetime NAACP member. He died January 30 in Hawaii at the age of 98.
A man of many “firsts,” Waddell was born in South Richmond, Va. in 1908. He studied veterinary medicine at Lincoln University and passed the Pennsylvania State Board of Veterinary Medicine in 1935, becoming the first licensed black veterinarian in the state. Waddell later co-founded the Tuskegee Institute School of Veterinary Medicine, where he served as the school’s first faculty member and worked with George Washington Carver on peanut oil therapy. Waddell was also the first black member of the American Veterinary Medicine Association and the first black veterinarian to practice in West Virginia.
From 1941 to 1946 Waddell served the U.S. 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments of the United States Army as a Buffalo Soldier. The Buffalo Soldiers were originally established by Congress as the first peacetime all-black regiments in the United States Army, but later operated during wartime. Waddell served abroad during the Italian campaign of World War II and was later wounded in action in North Africa.
Waddell was the second oldest of two surviving Buffalo Soldiers, and the last member of the 9th and 10th Calvary Regiments. He continued to attend Buffalo Soldier reunions each year up until his death. Joe Barnes of San Francisco is said to be the oldest known and sole remaining Buffalo Soldier.
After the war, Waddell opened a veterinary clinic in Tuskegee, Ala. and continued his affiliation with Tuskegee University. He was honored for his contributions to the veterinary school in 2004.
Among his many honors, Waddell received an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Lincoln University and a lifetime achievement award at the National Veterinary Association meeting in Honolulu last year. An annual scholarship named in his honor was recently instituted by the NAACP Honolulu Branch.
Waddell is remembered as a wise and exceptionally kind man who encouraged youth to seek knowledge and education. He is survived by a host of loving relatives and family friends and will be sorely missed.
Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.