Clara Leach Adams-Ender
Clara Leach Adams-Ender (born July 11, 1939) is a retired US Army officer who was Chief of the United States Army Nurse Corps from September 1987 to August 1991. She was the first woman to receive her master's degree in military arts and sciences from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. She is also the first African-American nurse corps officer to graduate from the United States Army War College. When she retired, in 1993, she was serving as commanding officer of Fort Belvoir.
Early Life & Education
Clara Leach Adams-Ender was born in Willow Spring, North Carolina in 1939. She had nine siblings. Her mother was named Caretha Bell Sapp Leach. Her father, Otha Leach, was a sharecropper and the family lived in Wake County, North Carolina on a tobacco farm. Adams-Ender attended high school at Fuquay Springs Consolidated High School. She graduated when she was sixteen. She was second in her class. She went to college at
North Carolina A&T State University. While there, she was a participant in the Greensboro sit-ins.
Adams-Ender joined the United States Army in order to pay for her nursing school education. When she graduated, in 1961, she was named second lieutenant for the United States Army Nurse Corps.
After graduation she worked at Brooke Army Medical Center. In 1961 she became staff nurse at the hospital at Fort Dix. While there, she also participated in an intensive care program at Fitzsimmons Army Medical Center. In 1963, she left her position at Fort Dix to work in South Korea. She worked at the 121st Evacuation Hospital. She attended classes at Fort Sam Houston. She would go on to become an instructor there. She was at Fort Sam from 1964 until 1967. After 1967, she received a Master's degree in medical-surgical nursing from the University of Minnesota. She also got married during this time period. She married James Adams; five years later they divorced.
She taught at Walter Reed Army Medical Center starting in 1969. She became the Director of Nursing at Fort George G. Meade starting in 1974. The following year she started attending the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. She graduated in 1976. She was the first woman to graduate from the college with a degree in military arts and sciences.
After graduation, she started working as a hospital inspector at United States Army Health Services Command post at Fort Sam Houston. In 1978 she moved to Frankfurt, Germany, where she started as assistant chief at the Department of Nursing at the 97th General Hospital. She would leave the position as chief in 1981. She was promoted to colonel. Also in 1981, she married Heinz Ender. Completing her tour in Germany she returned to the United States.
Adams-Ender did a lot of nursing recruitment. She relocated to Fort Sheridan and headed the nurse recruitment program there. While working there, she attended United States Army War College. She graduated in 1982. This made her the first African American nurse corps student to graduate from the college. She left Fort Sheridan in 1984. Aside from recruitment, she also was active in seeking increased wages for nurses.
Adams-Ender retired in 1993. She started a consulting company. She is the former president of Caring About People With Enthusiasm.
In 1996, she was named one of Working Women magazine's 350 women who "changed the world." She has been the recipient of the a Legion of Merit award, the United States Army Distinguished Service Medalwith an oak leaf cluster, a Commendation Medal, a Meritorious Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters, the Roy Wilkins Meritorious Service Award, and the Gertrude E. Rush Award for Leadership. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority.
Brigadier General Clara Adams-Ender