Samuel Eddy Cary, Esq.
was born on July 9, 1886, in Providence, Kentucky, the youngest of five children of S.E. and Rachel Cary. While working on the railroad to pay his way through college,
Cary finished law school at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. At the age of 24, he and his partner attorney W.L. Sayers, built a law office in Russell Springs, Kansas, in 1910. It was here that his long, colorful and controversial legal career began.
Cary was a popular man whom many people loved and befriended. His popularity resulted in his election as county attorney in Russell Springs in 1914, and he remained in that capacity until he set his sights on practicing law in a larger city near the Rocky Mountains.
Accompanied by his wife, Allena, whom he married on July 1, 1911, and his two small children, Kathryn and John, Cary set out for Denver, Colorado. In 1919, he was admitted to the Colorado Bar in October of that year, becoming the first Black attorney in Colorado. Soon thereafter, he set up his law offices in Denver's famous Five Points area.
An attorney with a specialty in criminal law, Cary's clientele were made up of people whom the white lawyers would shun: Blacks, Asians, Indians, and poor whites, who could ill afford to pay him. Even though it was commonly known among his family and friends that "nearly half" of Denver owed him money, money meant little to Cary. It was his love of law and people which gave him the burning desire to continue to succeed despite a hostile racial climate.
It was on September 30, 1926, Cary had to endure the harshest jolt of his life and career which would test his courage and endurance as a man and a professional: He was disbarred. Though the records show that he had "neglected clients' business while retaining fees permitting the default to be taken and suits to be dismissed," it was Cary's belief that disbarment was a harsh and unjust punishment. There is a specter that racial prejudice payed a part in his disbarment.
Disheartened and frustrated, Cary worked as a waiter with the Denver-Rio Grande Railroad. He was reinstated to the Colorado Bar on October 1, 1935 and continued practicing law until June 28, 1945, as a result of throat cancer.
Cary lived to the fullest: a caring, fun-loving, husband, father, and friend. He died on April 13, 1961, at the age of 74.
Creation of the Sam Cary Bar Association
The Sam Cary Bar Association (SCBA) was formed in September of 1971, in order to create a self-help group to instill professionalism and serve as a vehicle for the exchange of ideas among African-American lawyers.
The original seven members of SCBA were: Norman Early, Dan Muse, Raymond Jones, Gary Jackson, Phillip Jones, King Trimble and Billy Lewis. Probably the first controversial task undertaken by the new group was choosing "Sam Cary" as the name of the bar association.
It was deemed by several African-American attorneys to be inappropriate to have a bar association named after an attorney disbarred from practice. However, an examination conducted by the organization into the life and law practice of Sam Cary (including an address to the organization by the Honorable O. Otto Moore, former Chief Justice of the Colorado Supreme Court), revealed that Sam Cary was indeed an appropriate person after whom to name the organization.
When the SCBA was formed in 1971, there were less than 15 African-American attorneys practicing law in Colorado. The initial membership meetings were held in members' homes and in their law offices. Presently, there are over 200 African-American attorneys in Colorado.