Cover photo for Wayne Malcolm Sams's Obituary
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1933 Wayne 2022

Wayne Malcolm Sams

January 7, 1933 — December 8, 2022

Wayne Malcolm Sams, 07 January 1933 – 08 December 2022, Age 89
It is with great sadness the family of Wayne Malcolm Sams mourn his passing on Dec 08, 2022 at his home in Spokane, WA, and who like his beloved wife Nancy who passed earlier this year on Jan 28, was the last surviving member of his family. Wayne was born on Jan 07, 1933 in Newport, WA, the third child of Harold Arnold and Elizabeth Ruth (Renshaw) Sams, the first marriage for both parents. They were married on Nov 27, 1928 in Veradale, WA. Wayne is survived by his 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 him in death are his wife Nancy, his first-born Harold W. Sams, and Richard W. Sams, the eldest of his surviving children, four brothers, James Arnold, Ronald Harry, Charles Eugene, and Harold Dean, and two sisters, Betty Ruth Winey and Carol Ann Anglen.
Wayne was a loving husband, father, and grandfather. He began life's journey born during the early 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.
His earliest years were spent on a home built by his father in Electric City where he worked as a foreman during the construction of Grand Coulee Dam. In 1938 his father moved to a small rented farm on E. Brunner Road near Silverwood, ID where Wayne started the first grade of his education in a one-room school house. The family later moved to a smaller rental home at Twin Lakes, ID in 1940 where he finished the second grade, also in a one-room schoolhouse that survives today as a museum. In 1943 his father purchased a small plot of land there, and on the Fourth of July that year finished building his second home on a small hill rising above the north shore of Twin Lakes, ID that locals later referred to as Sams Hill. This was the period of Wayne’s happiest childhood memories. After finishing the many farm chores the remainder of the day was spent playing in the nearby woods, and in the summer months swimming in the lake below.
In 1947 at the age of 14 Wayne began the working years of his life employed by the Spokesman Review on a country paper route in Twin Lakes. It was during this period that he developed the strong work ethic that he pursued for the rest of his life. He increased an unprofitable route of 20 permanent customers to 55, and was earning so much money that he bought two of everything, BB guns, sleds, etc., so that he and his younger brother Ron could play together. A sawmill on the shores of Twin Lakes was recently abandoned, and in 1948 using his developing business acumen he reasoned he could take planks of wood from its walls, trim them to the size of wood burning stoves, and sell them to local residents. To do the delivery part of his plan, he installed an engine in a 1924 Ford Model T pickup truck that was abandoned on the family farm and restored it to running condition. That truck gave him a new found sense of freedom and started a life-long passion for buying and repairing his own cars, 34 in his lifetime.
The hardships of farm life and a new found love of travel and adventure provided by his Model T pickup lead him to quit school early and join the U.S. Navy in the spring of 1950 at the age of 17. Unfortunately his plan to “see the world” as the Navy advertised was interrupted by the start of the Korean War five days before his Boot Camp graduation on June 30, 1950 at the Naval Training Center, San Diego, CA. By ship and plane he eventually reported for duty aboard the U.S.S. Maddox (DD 731) then in port at Formosa (now Taiwan) which was there following its first combat patrols off the coast of North Korea. In early September 1950 Wayne happened to be topside when his ship began its approach to the North Korean coast and his first day in the combat zone. Just a young a 17 year old kid fresh off a North Idaho farm, he found the artillery geysers erupting all around the ship amusing and began to grin. A nearby more experienced shipmate swore at him, and yelled “They’re shooting at us.” Later in the war, the Maddox was shelled twice resulting in several injuries and one fatality. The Maddox earned a reputation for aggressively providing naval gunfire support to U.S. and allied ground troops – the closer the ship to shore, the longer the inland range of its 5-inch main guns. Wayne would later tell stories of being so close to shore it was routine to hear enemy machine gun bullets hitting the side of his ship. Never hit itself by coastal mines, several U.S. and allied ships operating with the Maddox were damaged, a few sunk. A member of VFW Post 1474 in Spokane, Wayne was extremely proud of his service on the U.S.S Maddox during its three combat deployments to North Korea where he earned six of the ten Campaign Battle Stars authorized for the Korean Service Medal. Wayne was discharged from the Navy on Dec 14, 1953 and returned home to northern Idaho. Shortly thereafter he was introduced to his future wife Nancy Ellen Bocook by his younger brother Ron who had earlier married Nancy’s cousin Shirley Bocook. He immediately fell in love when he first saw her outside the home of Shirley’s older sister Flossie and said to himself “Wow, I have to marry that girl.” And so he did on Jan 14, 1954 in Post Falls, ID. Later that year in August, his older brother Jim married Nancy’s older sister Ina, further increasing the close ties of these two families. Sorrow came later that year when their first child Harold Wayne Sams was born prematurely by Nancy following a six-month pregnancy on Sep 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. Despite the hardships of logging, he later remarked these were the happiest working years of his life because he enjoyed working for himself in the woods he enjoyed so much as a child.

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. 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. He was employed shortly after graduation by the Dixon Investment Company in Spokane and in 1969 was hired as the Office and Credit Manager for the Spokane Flower Growers then located on Havermale Island. This company later moved to a new location in downtown Spokane to make room for the 1974 International Exposition on the Environment, now Riverfront Park. He last worked for the Exchange Lumber Company in Spokane and retired in 1995.
Embracing his earlier found passion for travel, Wayne would travel in the summer months with his wife and children on short weekend trips and longer camping trips in the woods north of Chewelah where he formerly worked as a logger. At home, he enjoyed gardening, listening to his favorite country music and regaling his wife and children with stories from his childhood and wartime service in the U.S. Navy. Later in life, he and his wife Nancy were baptized into the faith as members of the Church of the First Born. He was especially fond of his brother-in-law David Bocook who later became a minister in that church. He and his wife Nancy would always defer to him in matters of faith and spiritual guidance. After a long period of illness this summer, Wayne learned early last month he had acquired mesothelioma, likely resulting from the asbestos used as an insulator aboard U.S. Navy ships at the time of his service. During his final weeks Horizon Hospice of Spokane assisted in the care of Wayne and in his last days he had the support of additional family members, dying peacefully at his home.
Wayne be laid to rest at the Washington State Veterans Cemetery in Medical Lake, where he will join his beloved wife Nancy.

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