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1937 Nancy 2022

Nancy Ellen Sams

February 14, 1937 — January 28, 2022

Nancy Ellen Sams, 14 February 1937 - 28 January 2022 It is with great sadness the family of Nancy Ellen Sams mourn her passing, the last surviving member of a large family. Nancy was born on Valentines Day, February 14, 1937 in Sandpoint, ID, the fifteenth child of Alexander and Lulu Zelma (O'Neel) Bocook, the second marriage for both parents. They were married on May 13, 1917 in Hawley Township, Blaine County, NE. At the time of her birth her mother remarked "She is the prettiest Valentine I ever saw." Nancy is survived by her loving husband Wayne M. Sams of Spokane, her children, Angela L. Russell and her husband Richard of Buchannan, MI, Philip A. Sams of Spokane, WA, Robert A. Sams and his wife Robin of Rosamond, CA, and numerous Grandchildren and Great Grandchildren. Preceding her in death are her first-born Harold W. Sams and Richard W. Sams, the eldest of her surviving children, one half-sister Maudie May and one half-brother LeRoy Bocook from her father's first marriage, one half-brother, Jefferson Adams from her mother's first marriage, eight brothers, William A., David A., Harvey L., Eneas A., Harold W., Thomas D., Kenneth C., and Isaac J. "Johnnie" Bocook, and eight sisters, Rose M. Sevier, Helen P. Holbrook, Anna B. Rhodes, Mary E. Bellis, Alice B. Lauderback, Gladys F. Minty, Ina L. Sams, and Lucy M. Gasper. Being part of such a large family offered many blessings and much happiness, but also much grief with each passing. When her last surviving sibling Kenneth died on August 20, 2020 from Covid, she remarked with much sadness "Now I'm the last of my family." Nancy was a loving wife, mother, and grandmother. She began life's journey born during the waning days of the Great Depression, and was part of that generation of Americans who learned to persevere the hard times of that era through a strong faith in God, reliance on family, hard work, and service to others. She grew up on the family homestead built by her father on the shores of Lake Pend Oreille near the town of Ponderay in the northern Idaho Panhandle. The strong bonds of affection and loyalty developed during those early years remained strong with her throughout her life. Later in life, Nancy remarked that her earliest and some of her happiest memories were of growing up in Ponderay and playing in the lake with her older brother Kenneth and older sister Ina, her siblings nearest in age. With the end of World War II, life began to improve for most Americans, and in the spring of 1946 Nancy went to Sandpoint, ID to see one of the earliest movies she can recall with Kenneth and Ina, "The Harvey Girls" starring Judy Garland. It was the beginning of a life-long love of movies, mainly westerns. Later that day, they returned to the family home to discover their family's milk cow had given birth. As the three gazed upon the newborn calf with its large, round eyes, all three exclaimed simultaneously, "She looks like Judy Garland!" Her family later moved to the Olympic Peninsula in northwestern Washington, living first in Gardiner, later Sequim, and finally in Port Angeles where she had many more wonderful memories of growing up with her beloved Papa, Mama and others in her family. While living in Gardiner, Nancy, Kenneth and Ina found a small abandoned rowboat on the shore, and decided to embark on their first and last open water adventure. The rowboat was not seaworthy and quickly filled with water, but fortunately not as fast as they were able to quickly return to shore. Nancy was always proud of her family and their close ties to one another that never wavered throughout their lives. In 1953 she moved to Spokane with her sister Ina and they began working as waitresses in a diner at Felts Field. At the end of that year began what she would later recall as the "eventful fourteens," the day of the month that became the source of her greatest happiness and sorrow. The happy days came first. As mentioned earlier, she was born on February 14, 1937. Her future husband and love of her life Wayne M. Sams was discharged from the U.S. Navy on December 14, 1953 following three combat deployments to the Korean War aboard the U.S.S. Maddox (DD 731) from 1950-1953. They first met during the early days of 1954 and immediately fell in love, marrying on January 14, 1954 in Post Falls, ID. Sorrow came later that year when their first child Harold Wayne Sams was born prematurely following a six-month pregnancy on September 14, 1954 at a hospital in Coeur d'Alene, ID, dying shortly after birth. Wayne soon found employment with Kaiser Aluminum, but lacking seniority, was laid off several times during the many down turns in the economy that occurred during the 1950's as the country's post World War II economic boom began to decline. During those periods, Wayne found work as a self-employed logger, cutting pulpwood at several locations north of Spokane. It was during this period Nancy fully embraced her passion for sewing to repair Wayne's damaged work clothes. As time progressed, she became an accomplished seamstress which helped keep down living costs by repairing rather than replacing clothes for her husband and children. Later in life she put her skills to use for more cheerful purposes, making costumes for Sadie Hawkins and other school events, as well as Halloween costumes for her children and grandchildren. She even reupholstered an entire car interior for her son Robert only for his love in return. Without hesitation she gladly accepted sewing project requests from extended family members, including work and baby clothes, furniture reupholstering, and a bridesmaid dress. In 1996 Nancy created a memorial plaque for all of her brothers and sisters using quilt fragments, hairpins and lace her mother once possessed. At the top were the names of their parents and date of marriage. At the bottom was the phrase “God blessed us with two of his precious jewels” and “To mama and papa’s # son/daughter” and their name. She never turned down a request. In the summer of 1962 the family moved from Deer Park to Chewelah, WA where Wayne found self-employment again as a logger in the Colville National Forest. At that time their son Richard would soon be attending school for the first time in the First Grade. Nancy wanted her son to start the school year with new clothes. Times were still difficult financially for the family, so Nancy, not for the first time, selflessly accompanied her husband to the forest on August weekends to help fell additional timber so that a few extra loads could be taken to the timber landing the following Monday. In November 1963, Wayne injured his back logging, and the family moved to Spokane in early 1964 where he attended Kinman Business University and received a degree in Accounting in 1966. Life for Nancy then became much easier. She loved to travel in the summer with her husband and children. For her, the enjoyment was not so much in the destination, but more from the time she could spend with her family. There were short drives on weekends to lakes for family picnics and longer vacations to see places of interest in the Pacific Northwest, including trips to Seattle's Space Needle and the Olympic Rain Forest. Other trips included the Grand Canyon, Bryce and Zion National Parks. There was always an annual camping adventure to Chewelah Creek, WA where her children could fish and play in the creek. Of course when things would sometimes get a little out of hand with mud fights or teasing, she would always be there to comfort her children. After the tears, there was a nightly feast complete with a marshmallow roast around the campfire. Later in life, she and her husband Wayne were baptized into the faith as members of the Church of the First Born. She was especially fond of her older brother David who later became a minister in that church. She would always defer to him in matters of faith and spiritual guidance. She also enjoyed gathering at the kitchen table with many of her siblings to sing gospel songs, including her and her father's favorites, "Unclouded Day," and "I'll Fly Away." Nancy spent her entire life devoted to her faith in God and her family. She always put her family first and her own health and interests second. Her very giving and loving nature were her best virtues. Nancy will be laid to rest at the Washington State Veterans Cemetery in Medical Lake, where she will be later joined by her husband Wayne when he passes.
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