Abner “Sam” Sampson Sr. was born Oct. 6, 1932, to the late Clarence and Pearline Faulkner Sampson in Goldsboro, N.C. Sam graduated from Dillard High School in Goldsboro, N.C., where he played football and basketball. In 1951, Sam went to Allen University in Charleston, S.C., on a full football scholarship and played basketball.

After Sam received a bachelor’s degree in biology from Allen University in 1955, he enlisted into the United States Army for two years. When Sam was stationed in Germany, he played basketball for the Army’s special services. He then returned to Goldsboro for a brief time before he relocated to Washington, D.C., in 1961 to be closer to his is only sister, Clarise, and to explore the possibilities of going to dental school.

When Sam found out that he needed to take some prerequisite courses before he could go to dental school, he decided to make his part-time job selling Air-Way vacuum cleaners door-to-door his fulltime profession. His career blossomed and he was named the national Air-Way Salesman of the Year for several consecutive years.

Aspiring to reach new heights and fulfill his dreams, Sam purchased the Air-Way franchise from his boss, Mr. Radar, and then founded Air-Way Sales and Services. As the owner, Sam expanded the business to include selling carpet and draperies. In 1978 he opened up the Air-Way V.I.P. Room where birthday parties, anniversaries, repasts and other functions could be held. The business’ motto was “Please Treat Everyone Right and be Fair in Your Dealings” and closed in 2004.

On April 13, 1963, Sam married Earline Broadnax at St. Paul’s AME Church in the District. After marriage and four children later, God led the family to Takoma Park Baptist Church where Sam served as a Sunday school teacher for the Currie Class and the junior high Sunday school class. Later in life, he joined Spirit of Peace Baptist Church in Capitol Heights, Md.

Community conscious, Sam was also very active in the Dillard High School Alumnae Association, the Allen University Alumnae Association and in his local community. In his spare time, Sam loved spending time with his family, having parties, walking on the track with his friends, watching “Sanford and Son,” “The Cosby Show” and westerns.

On May 23, Sam died peacefully at home surrounded by his family.