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Phillip Ray Sams
November 20, 1938 ~ January 27, 2024 (age 85) 85 Years Old
Phillip R Sams passed away after a brief illness on January 27, 2024. He is survived by his Sister Dorothy Healy and husband Mike, his children, and partners: Kelsie and Barbara Sams, Carole Sams Hoemeke and Scott Beetler, Rachel Soto, and Ivan Soto; and his grandchildren: Thomas Hoemeke and Amy Hoemeke. He also is survived by his beloved niece and nephews. He is preceded in death by his parents, his brother Dr Terry Sams, his second wife Marilee Monger Sams and his niece.
Born 11.20.1938 and raised in Middletown, Ohio to parents Dorothy Doench Sams/Joseph Everett Sams. At 13 he was the youngest ever Eagle Scout in the United States.
Phil paid his way through college by working summers in the trenches at Armco Steel. His sister recalled that he especially loved all the characters he met along the way. Till the end, he sought interesting people.
Phil went to DePauw University where he majored in Chemistry and met his first wife Lucinn Thomas Sams. During his senior year, along with other campus leaders, he was asked to leave briefly when it was revealed he was a member of the notorious secret Black Friars, a controversial social club. He ultimately did complete his degree and then moved on to Indiana University where he graduated with his MBA.
Phil’s first employer was with Dow Corning, in Midland, Michigan. He and Lucinn then moved to St Louis where his son Kelsie was born in 1963. A few quick stops in Kansas City and Des Plaines, IL then Houston, TX where his daughter Carole was born in1966. A few weeks after Carole was born, the real adventure began.
Phil recognized early in his career that he did not want to answer to anyone but himself and thus began his journey with the Trane Company to found what would be SystemAire, Inc., a mechanical contracting and engineering firm that had a strong presence in St. Louis for fifty-two years. Systemaire, Inc. became one of the first Design/Build mechanical contracting companies in the St.Louis area, and went on to work in over 20 states in later years. Phil added Sams Development as well. It was a family business at all levels with many longterm employees that became family, and ultimately, his son Kelsie joined the company and helped Phil lead it for 27 years.
In the early 70’s Phil expanded his empire when he purchased WIKOMI Manufacturing Company based in Litchfield, IL which then became Worksaver, Inc., a three-point hitch implement farm machinery manufacturing company. Many lessons learned and the recruitment of an amazing partner in Tom Burenga, together they grew Worksaver into a successful business and contributing employer to the Litchfield community. Today, in addition to their own product lines, they are also OEM manufacturers for John Deere.
Phil spent as much time as possible on the water during his adult life: in Litchfield IL, The Lake of the Ozarks, on the Mississippi river and ultimately on the ocean in Naples FL. He owned boats most of his adult life, from small sailing and fishing boats to large river houseboats. He also loved nature and had many a walk with his children and grandchildren, educating them on all the flora and fauna.
Phil loved Golf. He was a proud member at Forest Hills Country Club in Clarkson Valley/Chesterfield MO and then became a founding member of both The Legends in Eureka, MO and The Classics in Lely Resort Golf and Country Club in Naples FL, a badge of pride to his final days.
In the mid-80’s he met his second wife Marilee Monger Sams with whom he shared a passion for golf and more. At this time, he also took on role of father to Marilee’s daughter Rachel, who he loved dearly. After years of splitting time between MO and FL, they ultimately relocated to Naples as their permanent residence and became huge fans of the Florida Gators where Rachel was studying.
Phil was a member of many organizations over the years and treasured the long friendships in all. At the risk of missing some, those tops of mind include Boy Scouts of America, CASA Board, Young Presidents Organization, Veiled Prophet Society, YPO 49ers. In later years he treasured his Snowbird Forum, Middletown Ohio zoom group and St. Louis Court 81 Royal Order of Jesters.
Possibly Phil’s greatest legacy was his commitment to education, something he inherited from his father Everett who also had an incredible commitment to higher education. Starting back in Middletown Ohio where he and his siblings all pursued incredible educations, taking themselves through Master’s level programs and more, Phil carried his commitment to education forward through his life. His children all graduated from incredible universities, some with Master’s degrees, debt free. His grandchildren also attended and graduated incredible universities, debt free. He was also a valued advisor to his nieces and nephews. As his granddaughter Amy said, “the gift of our educations has changed our lives for the better” None of us took this privilege and gift for granted and strove to make him proud. And we know he was. What a legacy.