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Colonel James M. Sellers (June 20, 1895-September 3, 1990) was a highly decorated Marine in World War I, and served as Commandant, Superintendent and President of Wentworth Military Academymarker in Lexington, Missourimarker from 1920 to 1990.


James McBrayer Sellers was born in Wentworth Military Academy’s administration building in 1895. His father, Sandford Sellers, served as Superintendent and President of the school from 1880 to 1935. He graduated from the Academy in 1912, and moved on to the University of Chicagomarker, where he was a member of Beta Theta Pi and earned Phi Beta Kappa honors. He also was a reserve on Amos Alonzo Stagg's football squad, and in 1917 was named as one of twelve marshalls for his senior class.

In April 1917, shortly after the United Statesmarker entered World War I, Sellers joined the United States Marine Corps and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the 78th Company, 2nd Battalion 6th Marines. He participated in the Battle of Chateau-Thierry, Battle of Belleau Wood, Battle of Blanc Mont Ridge, and the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. He was shot through the groin at Belleau Wood on June 6, 1918. He recuperated for three months, then rejoined his troops. When he returned, he found that he was now the senior officer and was given command of the company in time for the Battle at Blanc Mont. The 78th Company engaged in heavy fighting at Blanc Mont, and Sellers wrote up the Citations for two men of his men, John J. Kelly and John H. Pruitt, that resulted in their being awarded the Medal of Honor. Kelly and Pruitt were his company runners, and Kelly was also his orderly. They were two of only seven Marines to earn the Medal of Honor during the war. For bravery in action, Sellers was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star, the Navy Cross, the Purple Heart, and the French Croix de Guerre. Discharged from active service in 1920, he remained in the Marines as a reserve officer until his retirement in 1944 with the rank of lieutenant colonel.

He returned to Wentworth Military Academy in 1920 and married Academy founder Stephen G. Wentworth’s great-granddaughter, Rebekah Evans Sellers in 1925. He served first as Commandant, then as Superintendent from 1933 to 1960 and President from 1935 to 1990. In 1951-52, he served as Grand Commander of the Grand Commandery Knights Templar of Missouri, and in 1953-54 was elected Grand Master of the Missouri Grand Lodge of Freemasonry, the highest state Masonic offices. His son, James M. Sellers, Jr., served as Wentworth's Superintendent from 1973 to 1990, and one of his grandsons, William W. Sellers is the current President of Wentworth. He taught Latin for 70 years, and he gave his last lesson, in his office located directly under the room in which he was born, at the age of 95 in 1990.

See also


  • World War I Memoirs of Lieutenant Colonel James McBrayer Sellers, USMC.
  • The Story of Wentworth, by Raymond W. Settle, 1950, Spencer Printing Co., Kansas City.
  • History of Wentworth Military Academy, by James M. Sellers, Jr., 1984.
  • Wentworth Trumpeter, 1893-2007.
  • Wentworth Military Academy, 125th Anniversary. Lil Touch Publishing. 2005.

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