Meet Two Great Republicans
Everyone who knows Sam says, “I love Sam!” According to his wife Pat, he is a mellow fellow who is simply happy. My first in-person meeting with Sam was in my apartment at Asbury. Due to a broken leg, he was a patient in the skilled nursing building here, and my friend who lives there due to MS helped him “escape” for a visit and lunch.
One of his childhood memories was of Sailor, an English Springer Spaniel who was Sam’s frequent hunting companion. When a gun was being put in the truck, Sailor became anxious and didn’t want to get in. However, once in the field, and a bird was available, Sailor’s tail would go up and the dog’s body began twitching to identify the target’s position. It was always a marvel to see.
When Sam was 17, his father, who worked in the New Castle, PA steel mills, took the family to Washington D.C. for a week’s vacation. Sam fell in love with the city and determined to make it his home base. After high school, Sam majored in geography and minored in mathematics at Penn State.
He served in the Air Force for three years, as a lieutenant. Upon learning there was an Air Force Flying Club on base, he quickly joined and learned to fly a Piper Tri Pacer. He was not, however, an Air Force pilot, but flying remained a favorite pastime. Later in life Sam owned a Beech Bonanza for three years.
A major turning point in Sam’s life was a chance encounter with Major Wilcox, a staffing officer for a new Air Force program called 466L Major Wilcox gave Sam the opportunity to learn about Electronic Brains (Computers). The program was renamed Aerospace Intelligence Data Service, Computers with mapping programs were used to provide the military with intel about Chinese and Russian strategic locations, thus enabling sufficient warning time for the U.S. military to take action.
It was Sam’s responsibility to run the computer room for a top secret program developed to identify foreign military threats against the U.S.A. in time to quickly launch opposing force teams. A chief motive for Sam’s joining the Air Force was to see the world. Instead, he wound up in the basement of a SAC building in Omaha working with computers. While at SAC, Sam enjoyed meeting Medal of Honor winner Major Jimmy Doolittle WWII pilot, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara; General Curtis Lemay Air Force 5th Chief of Staff; President-Elect John Kennedy; and actor Rock Hudson who was touring the base where the film “A Gathering of Eagles” was being filmed.
After the Air Force, Sam worked for Honeywell in Washington DC then transferred to New York City from 1965 – 1966 where he met his wife, Pat. Honeywell then placed Sam in Arlington, VA as a salesman to the US Air Force.
Sam continued to fly small planes after he left the Air Force and flew his family on many family trips. After his retirement he no longer flew but Sam and Pat continued to enjoy traveling the world. His favorite trip was to China. He found the culture and diversity fascinating.
Pat and Sam are proud parents of a son living in Maryland who is an airline pilot and is a Company Commander in the National Guard; a daughter who is a film producer and director, lives in Staten Island, NY, and another son is a California emergency room doctor. Pat, his wife is also a member of the Montgomery County Republican Central Committee, who Sam says, is the reason for his Central Committee involvement. He credits her hard work and knowledge of the committee’s history, and says he was voted in because of her. Sam maintains he was never interested in political office, as his preference is logical discussion and debate on issues. (It’s hard to imagine that happening in government today.)
About 1999, Sam began experiencing worrisome symptoms and was diagnosed with Inclusion Body Myositis, IBM for short, a rare degenerative muscle disease. He has mobility thanks to his electric wheelchair allowing him to drive over to my building to enjoy his favorite treat - the onion rings in the Blue Note at Asbury.
Karol Smith is a writer, former candidate, organizer of GOP Asbury and a member of the Montgomery County Republican Central Committee.