By Steve Mitchell
Samuel Sawyer was born in 1878 into a prominent Independence, Mo., banking family, the son of Aaron Flint Sawyer, president of Chrisman Sawyer Bank. Sam was a graduate of the old Kansas City Central High School. He graduated from Yale in 1899 and from Harvard Law School (cum laude) in 1902. He chose the legal profession rather than a career in banking for his life’s work. Both of his grandfathers were prominent attorneys and judges.
He started his legal career in the collection department at then Lathrop, Morrow, Fox & Moore in Kansas City (today, Lathrop Gage LLP) and earned promotions that by 1928 elevated his name into that of the firm, largely based on very good legal research he did on railroad liability cases for the Santa Fe Railroad following the great Kansas City flood of 1903.
Samuel Woodson Sawyer
Source: Bruce Mathews Collection
Sawyer was later active in organizing the Kansas City Terminal Railway, or “KCT,” which for many years owned and operated Kansas City’s Union Station. He was KCT’s General Counsel from 1918 until his more than 30 years later. He also was the lead attorney for Sheffield Steel Corporation (later a part of Armco Steel).
Among other legal and civic accomplishments, in 1937 he was elected president of the Lawyer’s Association of Kansas City. He was actively involved with both The Barstow School and Pembroke-County Day School. He died of heart disease in 1949 at age 70.
The grand lobby of Union Station.
Source: Tom Taylor postcard collection