The Nation’s Largest African American Video Oral History Collection Mobile search icon Mobile close search icon
Advanced Biography Search
Mobile navigation icon Close mobile navigation icon

Gen. Clara Adams-Ender

Share on Social Media

Information about Gen. Clara Adams-Ender

Profile image of Gen. Clara Adams-Ender

Profession

Category:
MilitaryMakers
Occupation(s):
Military Officer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Yellow
Favorite Food:
Fish
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Rome, Italy
Favorite Quote:
Don't Get Too Serious About Life. None Of Us Will Ever Get Out Alive.

Birthplace

Born:
7/11/1939
Birth Location:
Willow Springs, North Carolina

Profession

Category:
MilitaryMakers
Occupation(s):
Military Officer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Yellow
Favorite Food:
Fish
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Rome, Italy
Favorite Quote:
Don't Get Too Serious About Life. None Of Us Will Ever Get Out Alive.

Birthplace

Born:
7/11/1939
Birth Location:
Willow Springs
See how Gen. Clara Adams-Ender is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

U.S. Army General Clara Mae Leach Adams-Ender was born on July 11, 1939 in Willow Springs, North Carolina to Caretha Bell Sapp Leach and Otha Leach. Adams-Ender was the fourth child of ten and grew up in a family of sharecroppers. Adams-Ender excelled in school and went on to North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in Greensboro, North Carolina, where she earned her B.S. degree in nursing in 1961.

Upon her graduation, Adams-Ender joined the U.S. Army Nurse Corps as a second lieutenant, received training at Brooke Army Medical Center in Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Adams-Ender was assigned overseas, beginning in 1963, as a staff nurse for the 121st evacuation hospital in the Pacific theater near North Korea; she would later serve in Germany. In 1964, Adams-Ender worked as a medical-surgical nursing instructor at Fort Sam Houston; in 1967, she became the first female officer to receive an Expert Medical Field Badge, whereupon she decided to return to school at the University of Minnesota.

After earning her M.S. degree from the University of Minnesota, Adams-Ender began working at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., initially as a medical-surgical nurse instructor, then as an assistant professor, until she was promoted to education coordinator in 1972. After two years as the assistant chief of the Department of Nursing at Fort Meade in Maryland, Adams-Ender entered the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas; she graduated in 1976 as the first woman to earn a Master of Military Art and Science degree at the College. Adams-Ender graduated from the U.S. Army War College in 1982, the first African American Nurse Corps officer in the Army to do so.

After working as the Chief of the Department of Nursing in the 97th General Hospital, Chief of Nurse Recruiting at Fort Sheridan, and Illinois, Chief of the Department of Nursing at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Adams-Ender was promoted to the rank of Brigadier-General and became the Chief of the Army Nurse Corps in 1987. In 1991, Adams-Ender was selected to be Commanding General, Fort Belvoir, Virginia, and served in this capacity as well as that of Deputy Commanding General of the U.S. Military District of Washington until her retirement in 1993.

Adams-Ender was known throughout her career for being active in nurse recruiting, initiating nursing units and advocating on behalf of critical care nurses for increased pay. Adams-Ender received a Distinguished Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Legion of Merit award, an Arm Commendation Medal, and Meritorious Service Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters; she also received non-military awards that included the Roy Wilkins Meritorious Service Award of the NAACP, the Gertrude E. Rush Award for Leadership from the National Bar Association, and, in 1996, was named one of the 350 women who changed the world by Working Women magazine.

After retirement, Adams-Ender also served as the President of Caring About People With Enthusiasm (CAPE) Associates, Inc., and published her autobiography, My Rise to the Stars: How a Sharecropper's Daughter Became an Army General, in 2001.

See how Gen. Clara Adams-Ender is related to other HistoryMakers
Loading...
Click Here To Explore The Archive Today!
  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Gen. Clara Adams-Ender's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender lists her favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender describes her mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender describes her maternal grandfather
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender describes her maternal grandmother
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender recalls how her parents met
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender lists her siblings
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender describes her father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender talks about her family's land
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender remembers her family's sharecropping
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender remembers childhood perceptions of poverty
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender talks about sharecropping
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender describes her relationship with her father
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender remembers her cousins
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender recalls skipping first grade
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender remembers her mother's lessons
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender remembers her mother's sewing
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender remembers canning in high school
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender remembers playing with her brothers
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender recalls reciting poetry at church
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender recalls her sister's college plans, pt. 1
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender recalls her sister's college plans, pt. 2
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender remembers the farm's landlord
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender recalls the general store owner, Walter Myatt
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender remembers visiting her sister at college
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender remembers attending high school
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender remembers her first prom
  • Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender recalls enrolling at Agricultural and Technical College of North Carolina
  • Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender remembers joining the U.S. Army Nurse Corps
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender remembers deciding to join the U.S. Army
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender recalls convincing her parents to support her U.S. Army enlistment
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender remembers missing class in high school
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender recalls experiencing racial discrimination in high school
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender describes her activities in college
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender describes her parents' support of the Civil Rights Movement
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender describes her involvement in the Civil Rights Movement
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender recalls sitting in at Woolworths in Greensboro, North Carolina, pt. 1
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender recalls sitting in at Woolworths in Greensboro, North Carolina, pt. 2
  • Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender remembers debating with HistoryMaker Reverend Jesse L. Jackson
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender remembers her graduation from college
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender recalls preparing for active duty in San Antonio, Texas
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender remembers her officer training at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender recalls working in the intensive care unit at Fort Dix, New Jersey
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender describes race relations at Fort Dix, New Jersey
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender recalls her relationship with Fort Dix's chief surgeon, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender recalls her relationship with Fort Dix's chief surgeon, pt. 2
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Slating of Gen. Clara Adams-Ender's interview, session 2
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender recalls being stationed at Fort Dix, New Jersey
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender describes her conflict with Colonel John Sharp
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender remembers reconciling with Colonel John Sharp
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender describes free time at Fort Dix
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender recalls her deployment to Sinchon-dong, South Korea
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender describes her volunteer work in Sinchon, South Korea
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender describes her travels around Korea
  • Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender recalls requesting to teach in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender describes her appreciation for her time in Korea
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender recalls her reenlistment in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender recalls her living situation at Fort Sam Houston
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender recalls difficulties with her roommate at Fort Sam Houston
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender remembers receiving orders to teach medics in Texas
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender remembers teaching medics in San Antonio, Texas
  • Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender remembers teaching war training
  • Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender recalls receiving a poor officer efficiency report, pt. 1
  • Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender recalls receiving a poor officer efficiency report, pt. 2
  • Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender describes her promotion to captain in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps
  • Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender recalls being falsely accused of stealing in the U.S. Army
  • Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender remembers attending the University of Minnesota
  • Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender recalls her teachers at the University of Minnesota
  • Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender remembers teaching during and after graduate school
  • Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender recounts celebrating her promotion to major
  • Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender remembers controversy around the Vietnam War
  • Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender describes her role at Walter Reed Army Institute of Nursing
  • Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender remembers working at Walter Reed Hospital
  • Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender describes her family life
  • Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender recalls the debates in the U.S. military over the Vietnam War
  • Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender remembers her divorce
  • Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender talks about male nurses in the U.S. Army
  • Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender recalls her parents' reaction to her divorce
  • Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender recalls being asked to recruit African American nursing students to the U.S. Army
  • Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender remembers recruiting African American students to Walter Reed Army Institute of Nursing
  • Tape: 9 Story: 9 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender describes her successful recruitment of African American U.S. Army nurses
  • Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender describes her path to promotion as lieutenant colonel
  • Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender recalls choosing nursing over law school
  • Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender recalls being assigned to Fort Meade as a lieutenant colonel
  • Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender describes classes at Command and General Staff College
  • Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender recalls honoring the women at Command and General Staff College
  • Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender recalls serving as inspector general at Fort Sam Houston
  • Tape: 10 Story: 7 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender describes her parents' failing health
  • Tape: 10 Story: 8 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender recalls serving as assistant chief nurse in Frankfurt, Germany
  • Tape: 10 Story: 9 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender remembers her promotion to colonel
  • Tape: 10 Story: 10 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender recalls becoming chief nurse of Frankfurt Army Regional Medical Center
  • Tape: 11 Story: 1 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender recalls celebrating her promotion to colonel
  • Tape: 11 Story: 2 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender recalls being chief nurse of Frankfurt Army Regional Medical Center
  • Tape: 11 Story: 3 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender remembers dating Heinz Ender
  • Tape: 11 Story: 4 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender describes her siblings' education and careers
  • Tape: 11 Story: 5 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender recalls marrying Heinz Ender
  • Tape: 11 Story: 6 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender talks about working as a U.S. Army recruiter
  • Tape: 11 Story: 7 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender recalls serving as chief nurse of Walter Reed Army Medical Center
  • Tape: 11 Story: 8 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender remembers her promotion to general
  • Tape: 12 Story: 1 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender recalls preparing for her promotion to general
  • Tape: 12 Story: 2 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender describes the politics of being promoted to general
  • Tape: 12 Story: 3 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender recalls learning of her promotion to chief of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps
  • Tape: 12 Story: 4 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender recalls beginning her duties as chief of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps
  • Tape: 12 Story: 5 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender recalls choosing her staff as chief of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps
  • Tape: 12 Story: 6 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender remembers selecting John Hudock as her assistant chief
  • Tape: 12 Story: 7 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender describes the controversy over her selection of John Hudock
  • Tape: 12 Story: 8 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender describes her work as chief of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps
  • Tape: 13 Story: 1 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender remembers receiving permission to build up the U.S. Army Nurse Corps
  • Tape: 13 Story: 2 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender recalls serving as personnel director during the first Gulf War
  • Tape: 13 Story: 3 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender describes her work at Fort Belvoir and the Military District of Washington
  • Tape: 13 Story: 4 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender describes her husband, Heinz Ender
  • Tape: 13 Story: 5 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender recalls her husband's cancer
  • Tape: 13 Story: 6 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender reflects upon her life
  • Tape: 13 Story: 7 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender remembers her mother
  • Tape: 14 Story: 1 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender describes how she would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 14 Story: 2 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender reflects upon changes she'd like to see in the world
  • Tape: 14 Story: 3 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender narrates her photographs, pt. 1
  • Tape: 14 Story: 4 - Gen. Clara Adams-Ender narrates her photographs, pt. 2