By the late 1960’s, the war in Vietnam was raging and the public’s viewpoint of the merits of military academy schooling was waning. Much as wagon makers and buggy wing manufacturers had disappeared as the world changed around them with the advent of automobiles, so was the world changing for America’s military academies. Many military academies closed during this timeframe. SMA, while still ranked high in its educational and military credentials, was ill equipped to cope with and survive these changes. (Note: During the research for this work, the author discovered three similarities in the military academies that survived. Most were non-profit foundations, most had an endowment to draw on, and most were associated with a church organization. SMA had none of these essentials.)
In 1967, Eleanor E. (Kable) Whitehead passed away, ending the Trust established in William G. Kable’s will. The shares of Stock in SMA held by the Trust were distributed to his children in 1968. William G. Kable II, Helene K. Holland, and Kable M. Young became equal owners of the Academy. William G. Kable II continued to operate the Academy as the Business Manager and then as Executive Officer of the Corporation. The Academy, while being presumably profitable up to that point, had very little reserves to draw on in the event of a downturn in enrollment. The last session that the school saw a profit ($63,000) was 1969-70. In June of 1970, the cash reserves (retained earnings) totaled $554,000. $130,000 was then distributed to as dividends to the Kables leaving $424,000 in reserve. At the end of the 1970-71 session, SMA showed a loss of $98,000, $45,000 was distributed at that time as dividends to the Kables leaving a reserve of $281,000. The 1971-72 session fared no better, with the school losing $132,000. No dividends were paid that year. So going into the 1972-73 session, the school had $149,000 in reserve. Also, the school had been seeing a declining enrollment since its high of 650 in 1966 with the Corps of Cadets numbering only 353 in the 1972-73 session.
In March of 1972, the Board of Directors of SMA approached the Alumni Association and offered to sell the Academy to them for $2,000,000. The Alumni Association took the offer under consideration and hired a company to prepare a feasibility study. Then, in June of 1972, William G. Kable II, SMA’s Executive Officer, passed away. By that time Helene K. Holland, his sister and 1/3 owner of the Academy, had also passed away and her shares were being controlled by a Trust created by her will. The decision was made by the shareholders to intensify the search for a buyer for the school.
The Alumni Association’s Board of Directors made a counter offer in September 1972, which the owners of SMA declined and made a second offer. The amounts of these offers are unknown. The Alumni Association declined that offer and broke off negotiations. In November of 1972, Layne Leoffler, SMA’40, who had heard of the school’s financial plight, came before the Board of Directors to discuss purchasing the school. Mr. Leoffler had made a fortune in Real Estate and Golf Course construction & ownership. He was willing to risk this fortune to save SMA. He offered to purchase the school for $806,750 and continue to operate it as a military academy. The Kables accepted his offer. Leoffler set up the HIS Corporation as a non-profit entity to purchase and operate the school. The HIS Corporation took possession in January 1973 and began controlling the operations of SMA.
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