Alexander R. Stoesen
April 9, 1932-November 30, 2017
By George and Carole Troxler
Delivered at the April 6, 2018 HSNC Meeting, Gastonia, NC
Many of us, on hearing the following words, would immediately know to whom they refer:
“He was a brave man, riding the rapids on the Zambezi and riding his bicycle up and down Friendly Avenue as an environmentally friendly commuter.”
The words are from Adrienne Israel, professor of history and vice president of academic affairs at Guilford College. They refer, of course, to our friend and long-time member, Alex Stoesen. She called him “an anchor for the College and a champion of history.”
Dr. Stoesen served the Historical Society of North Carolina generously. Like other secretaries, he was the rudder of this ship for several years. In addition, he served as vice president and president.
We were fortunate to be present when Alex was awarded the Christopher Crittenden Award, and we remember in particular that the focus of the citation was has skill and dedication in teaching North Carolina History at Guilford College. Commenting on his thirty-three years of teaching American History, Guilford College colleagues remembered him as an extraordinary teacher and mentor, particularly for pre-law students.
Many of us worked with him on the North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Committee, where he served a total of fifteen years and was chairman. He was as diligent in evaluating marker proposals outside Guilford County as he was in bringing attention to potential markers in that county, including ones for the Woolworth Sit-Ins and the Underground Railroad. He researched for and successfully promoted public awareness of World War II Army Air Force training and processing centers in Greensboro.
At the start of his career, Alex received the Francis Marion Cup for excellence in history when graduated with honors at the Citadel. His Master’s thesis at the University of Rochester was “American participation in the joint occupation of the Rhineland, 1918-1923”. At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, his PhD dissertation treated the senatorial career of Claude D. Pepper. His director was Carlyle Sitterson.
Stoesen’s published and unpublished works are in the Alexander Stoesen Collection in the Greensboro Historical Museum. The unpublished material includes The elixir of war: Greensboro, N.C. as an “army town,” 1942-1946.” His publications include Guilford County: A Brief History, Guilford College on the Strength of 150 years, two articles about Claude Pepper in the Florida Historical Quarterly, and “The British Occupation of Charleston 1780-1782” in the South Carolina Historical Magazine.
Always physically active, Alex was on the Citadel wrestling team. In the late 1950s, he qualified as an army parachutist and served as division ammunition officer of the 101st Airborne Division. In retirement, he volunteered in twenty-eight countries with Habitat for Humanity International and in two Friends School missions in Ramallah, north of Jerusalem. A brave man, indeed.
Alex and his late wife, Carol Cronk Stoesen, have two sons and a daughter: Robert, Bill, and Lyn. Alex died November 30, 2017 at Friends Home in Greensboro.
George and Carole Troxler