Sunday, August 9, 2009

Sam ...

Sam was our friend and colleague who died way too soon of complications arising from lymphoma. Two years later, we still miss him. Friends and family gathered recently to reminisce about Sam and dedicate a tree and plaque in his memory. His family gave me permission to post the slideshow and photos from the ceremony so that friends and family that could not attend could share in the memories. I'll leave this blog up for a month or so, and hope you get the same pleasure remembering Sam as we did. (Click on photo to enlarge)

A long-time friend contributed the following "Sam stories" for the inside of the tribute program. You'll find tributes by other friends when you watch the slideshow (right-hand column of this blog). If you have a story to add, feel free to leave it in a Comment.

We remember Sam ...

Sam was one of the most honest and straightforward individuals I have ever known. His integrity was beyond question and our 52Mod Customer truly respected Sam for this personal attribute.

I believe that Sam’s character and respect of the Customer was the foundation for the credibility our program team enjoyed. Just to show you how much he was respected, several of our Customers made the trip to Florida on their own to attend Sam’s Celebration of Life.

Sam once did 1000 sit-ups during a little friendly competition on site. The closest competitor did 250, which we thought was giant until Sam blew by it. He was amazingly athletic.

At that same site, after working 12 hours with the rest of the team, Sam built some makeshift barbells out of conduit and wire spools. He spent time after work each day, lifting these weights - I don’t know if he was just bored or had too much energy - I am still amazed about that.

No one could eat as much spaghetti in one sitting as Sam could. I once saw him devour an enormous amount of spaghetti during another friendly challenge on site during the Traveler install. He took the competition hands-down - no one had the courage to challenge Sam on eating again.

Inside that rough exterior, Sam had a great big heart that was well known to his friends and colleagues. He would go out of his way to do anything for one of his teammates.

I bet I heard this a thousand times: "I can’t really draw very well" just before Sam walked up to the white board to draw out a detailed schematic or diagram to illustrate a point to the group. He actually could draw pretty well - he was just very self-effacing and a humble man.

During the HT/MT Camp Roberts install, Sam and a group of us were headed out for a rare off day to go antique shopping I think - he collected antique shaving razors. We had stopped for a drink or something and Patty had pinched the back of my arm for some forgotten transgression - Sam said to me "stop whining, you big baby." Patty then pinched the back of his arm in that tender part of the muscle. Sam was immediately apologetic.

I once saw Sam catch a high pop-up in his glove held behind his back in an impressive display of coordination and timing - he was an excellent athlete and could probably have played professional ball had he chosen to go into it.

Sam was just a big hearted, genuine, caring person who made his friends and colleagues better off for knowing him.

I’ll never forget Sam telling us about his reason for going into engineering. He spent a summer working in construction in Florida on the beach digging holes. It was hard, hot work that convinced him he should use his smarts instead of his muscles to make his way through life. He was very successful as an engineer and loved to explain and debate things with his colleagues. Sam could explain anything in simple terms that anyone could understand.

I’ll stop now. Lots of great memories of Sam - we all miss him.
(Below is a photo of Sam's family at the tree - click to enlarge)

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