Samme Gallaher Darnall
Samme Gallaher Darnall
  • 102 years old
  • Date of birth: Jan 26, 1912
  • Place of birth:
    California, United States
  • Date of passing: May 3, 2014
  • Place of passing:
    Thousand Oaks, California, United States
Let the liveliness and love of Samme be with us forever.

This memorial website was created in memory of Samme Darnall, 102, born on January 26, 1912 and passed away on May 3, 2014. She lives on in our hearts as we remember and cherish her wonderful qualities, her love for us, and her great enthusiasm for life.  

Memorial Tributes
This tribute was added by Robert King on 29th June 2016

"I still remember Samme with great fondness over two years after she left us.  Her joy in living and spirit of adventure were a real inspiration to all of us who had the privilege of knowing her.  She made many friends here in Alaska, and I'm proud to have been among them."

This tribute was added by Robert Blair on 3rd May 2016

"I still remember Samme's kindness during the 2-3 years that I knew her and was blessed enough to get to talk with her at the CS reading room on my lunch breaks sometimes.  It is a strange juxtaposition for her to have passed on May 3rd, because May 3rd is the birthday of maybe my most beloved person in my life, my grandpa, Daniel. I always love this day, and an 8th grade Spanish teacher of mine shared with my class almost four decades ago that she also always loved May 3rd because the weather was always beautiful on this day. On this day I always miss my beloved Papa Dan very much. I will think of him and my grandma and Samme throughout today. I am grateful to know that they are still living in God and with God and still with us in that manner today. I am grateful for all of these lovely reflections of God that have touched my life. Thank you, God, for these beloved divine ideas of yours that have blessed us all in various ways. My grandpa would have marked his 119th birthday today, although I know that our lives truly have no beginning or end and that we live eternally as spiritual beings. God blesses all of God's creation. There is no separation. There is no separation. As my Papa Dan used to always say, "Divine Love directs, corrects and protects." Amen. God bless you."

This tribute was added by Geri Mankey on 3rd May 2016

"Dear Samme,
You are still with us every day in our thoughts and hearts and conversations.  Although we use your room for other things now, I can't sit in your chair (which I do every morning to read), without feeling lovely warm memories of your presence there.  We all know you are doing fine, but we do miss your loving and adventurous spirit. We're also very grateful for the lovely friends you made in Alaska and so many other places, whom we now have the pleasure of knowing also."

This tribute was added by Robert King on 26th January 2016

"On this day, Samme's 104th birthday, we still remember her with great affection.  While she revered her amazing experiences in her youth, which she wonderfully recorded and shared in her book "Sisters," she was also forward-looking and eager to keep up with the times.  She used computers and e-mail in her last years, and made even more friends that way.  She was one amazing lady who made a difference!"

This tribute was added by Robert King on 4th May 2015

"It's now been a year and a day since we lost dear Samme, but in a most special way--in our memories--she's still very much with us now, and will be in the future.  She was such a sweet and fun-loving person, and so generous to share her fascinating life stories!  We all had such wonderful times with her.  In all, Samme led a most remarkable life and what she accomplished during her later years in particular continues to inspire us!  She'll never be forgotten!"

This tribute was added by Linda Stoner on 28th January 2015

"Samme was a wonderful friend and most welcome support to my mother as well as a raconteur extraordinaire of her adventures in Alaska.  She remains unforgettable."

This tribute was added by Lael Morgan on 26th January 2015

"In celebrating Samme Gallaher Darnall’s 103th birthday I’d like to note that to date more than 5,000 copies of her first book,"Sisters: Coming of Age and Living Dangerously in the Wild Copper River Valley" have been sold since publication in 2004, and that "Moonlight Madness," which she wrote a few years later, has sold about 1,600 copies.  

These are not blockbuster figures, of course, but considering few folks had ever heard of her Copper River country, that  the author did not become a professional writer until the age of 92, and that her publisher—Epicenter Press—is a small, regional house based in Alaska, Samme’s continuing popularity is downright impressive.

Yes, she still has dedicated fans.  While I was manning a booth at a book sale held annually in Anchorage following Thanksgiving last year, one of them took the time to explain to me what a wonderful read "Sisters" is. Then, just last week, I got a phone call from a new reader who wanted to know more about the author.  “What is she really like,” he asked.

I was inclined to answer “feisty” with a mind to all the e-mails I received from Samme over the years on the causes she passionately backed. But instead I told him of her broad view of the world, the sharpness of her focus and the fact that she remained bright and curious, even during our last conversation which was just a month or so before her death.

Not that I didn’t enjoy the “feisty” part,  too, and I miss it.  I half expect to get another e-mail from her soon telling me to pull up my socks and support another worthy cause.  And I remain quite sure that her spirit will be here come spring, en route to the Copper River country she so loved."

This tribute was added by Jim Clark on 19th September 2014

"I met Samme in July of 2001 when my son and I rode our motorcycles to Prudhoe Bay, AK. We were staying at a B&B where she stayed. She had both my son and I enthralled with her adventures and life. I was celebrating my 67th birthday on that trip and Samme had far exceeded any of my events and was still going strong. We became fast friends which I think was the case for anyone who met her in person. I bought her books to relive her early years in AK as a young lady. I am sure she is sorely missed by everyone who knew her including myself. God Bless you Samme."

This tribute was added by molly mccormick on 2nd September 2014

"Geri and Earl,

I just uploaded 3 photos I took of Samme at the Fireweed Festival in 2007 at Copper Center, AK.  This was the first time I really met her.  She was sharing a table with several of us, bought a scarf from me because it was a bit chilly and because it matched her eyes, and enchanted everyone who stopped by with her stories and her humor and genuineness.   She was so cool in so many ways - and a pleasure to know."

This tribute was added by Sylvia Crew-Rinski on 5th August 2014

"Truly a jewel!  What an amazing adventuresome lady Samme was and is.  I enjoyed listening to her Alaskan adventures.  I remember her telling me when she was planning a trip to Alaska.  She said she was driving all the way.  "Driving" I said in surprise.  I was impressed!  Her books are truly an inspiration.  (They can be found on (Just ordered Apache Springs) God bless you dear Samme!  A big hug to you, Sylvia Crew-Rynski""

This tribute was added by Sheila Robbins on 26th July 2014

"I had the wonderful opportunity to visit with Samme daily for about a week.  How blest I was!  If I had to describe her with minimal words...they would be...FULL OF LIFE!  She had more life, passion, enthusiasm, not to mention colorful stories of her life adventures than anyone I've ever met!!  ...And what a sense of humor...had me laughing!  She will be missed by all who had the honor to know her!  Love you Samme!  Till we meet again!"

This tribute was added by Anne Condon on 7th June 2014

"Samme was a delightful spirit, full of joy, happiness, verve, and liveliness. She loved sharing her life experiences, and it is wonderful that she chose to write many of them in her book so all could enjoy her adventures. I especially appreciated her delightful humor and her outgoing personality. The many qualities she expressed will live on in the hearts of all who knew her. She is a cheerful memory!"

This tribute was added by Lael Morgan on 7th June 2014

"Samme was already a "senior" senior citizen when she tried to sell Epicenter Press the manuscript for her late sister Aileen's book on living on a trap-line in the Alaska wilds.  Instead, discovering that Samme had lived with Aileen and her famous Alaskan husband, Clyde "Slim Williams" I asked Sammy to double the size of the manuscript by adding her own experiences.  

Never mind that my would-be author had never written professionally before or that she was 90. I knew from my first conversation with her that Samme Gallaher would do well any assignment she took on.  And, boy, did she ever!

To her surprise, Samme liked being a writer and would go on to do several other well received books.  But "Sisters," the result of her very first effort, remains a regional best seller.

We talked a couple of weeks before her death on book sales and the usual wonders of the world.  I could always count on her for an e-mail about some useful cause when no other e-mails came in.  But as a business woman I will miss her marvelous sales skills, and all that she taught me about that side of the business.

Yes, I'll miss Samme, who worked at her new trade right up till the end.  And, hey, I think her bright spirit will hang around for a while, just to make sure the publisher of Epicenter Press has got it right and will keep her history straight."

This tribute was added by Jennifer Beasley on 31st May 2014

"Samme was a wonderful inspiration to so many people.  Her love of life and spirit of adventure throughout her years were a wonderful example for all of us.  She was always interesting to talk to, and I loved hearing about her life in Alaska.  My sister met her for the first time last November.  She also loved hearing about Samme's Alaskan days and is now reading her book.  I'll always remember Samme's clear, insightful testimonies and her warm, outgoing love of others."

This tribute was added by Robert King on 29th May 2014

"Samme was an amazing, wonderful, and fun-loving person whom I will never forget.  I met her on August 1, 2000 when she came to Alaska with Geri, Earle, and Jeff Mankey to again enjoy the state that she so dearly loved, but more specifically, to find cabins near Gakona and Sourdough where she had lived for a time while a teenager.  As we know from her wonderful book "Sisters," when she was only 15 she came to live two times in the Copper River Valley of Alaska (1927-28 near Gakona, then 1930-31 near the Sourdough Roadhouse)  with her dear sister Aileen and her brother-in-law, Clyde C. "Slim" Williams.  The day before I met her, now nearly 14 years ago, she and the Mankeys had visited what remained of the cabin on the Sanford River near Gakona where she had stayed.  Then the day I arrived, I was able to go with them in pursuit of the other cabin on the Gulkana River near the Sourdough Lodge off the Richardson Highway.  Samme decided against going in the boat with Earle, so she and I had a chance to begin a conversation that extended over the years until April of 2014 (the last time I spoke to her) about her life and times in Alaska. Since the early 1990s I had been researching the fascinating story of Slim Williams and could hardly believe encountering Samme.  Her memories of those days in Alaska, and him, were crystal clear.  Her 2000 trip led to her writing her first book, "Sisters," now a best seller here in Alaska.  I was very humbled to be asked to write an introduction to that and then even more humbled to be mentioned in the dedication.  From that first meeting in 2000, Samme and I immediately became friends and I was so happy when Samme returned to Alaska many summers after 2000.  It was a highlight to see her again, and also to visit again with members of the Mankey family who equally became my friends.  I particularly enjoyed visits with Samme and the Mankeys in Thousand Oaks, including attending her fabulous 100th birthday celebration in January 2012.  Samme really became a part of my life and I miss her so very much.  But I do take solace in all the great memories.  I'm sure we all do.  "Samme, we love you!""

This tribute was added by Sheila Carlson on 28th May 2014

"Dear Geri, Earle, Jeff & Joel,
We are so sorry for your loss.  We know that Samme was such a vibrant part of your lives and we also feel blessed to have known her.  What a blessing for Samme as well, that you chose to invite her into your home all those years ago as a beloved member of your immediate family.
Brent & Sheila"

This tribute was added by Roger & Judy Leach on 26th May 2014

""Oh Samme, how I love you and miss you." I will ever hold you dear. You were my second Mom. It was my joy to run over and talk to you when you or I needed an ear.  We would giggle, sing, tell stories, cry, yell, drink coffee, have little parties. How you enjoyed it when I brought over a treat with a tray, plates and cups.   Samme was always telling me to be stronger and more forward, just as my mom used to say. God Loves you she would say. I'm so thankful and so blessed to have been able to spend the time with you over the last few years. Roger and I were so honored to be at your 102nd birthday party.  I know you were getting anxious to see all your friends and be with them. You were getting tired I know you were preparing me. And I know your having a party now. Thank you Samme, for sharing your adventures, wisdom, your teaching and your love.  Till we meet again then I'll introduce you to my mom (she was born in 1911). The stories you two could tell!! Love, Judy"

This tribute was added by Melanie Ball on 23rd May 2014

"My dear friend, Samme, is a joy and an Alaskan kindred spirit. Samme is an inspiration for all of us, with her girlish delight in life, her dedication to praying for the world, ageless loveliness, and devotion to God. I have loved being Sammie's friend, and know she continues to make many new friends as she goes forward in her adventure of life. I love you, Samme!"

This tribute was added by Claire Mandeville on 22nd May 2014

"I feel so blessed to have spent time with Samme during her last several visits to Alaska.  I had heard so many wonderful stories about her from Doug Vollman (my brother) and Marnie Graham (sister-in-law). My favorite visit with Samme was the summer of 2008. Our mom, Marie Vollman, and I were living with Doug and Marnie and Taylor for the summer. My cabin was being built on the neighboring property. Samme came to stay for several days, and she adored Mom. Samme asked Mom if she would be her little sister - as Mom was 15 years younger than Samme. She caused Mom to light up with delight during their conversations. I love you, Samme!"

This tribute was added by Lynn Ward on 21st May 2014

"I love you Samme....My memories of Samme will remain foreveri n my heart.I met my sweet friend in Gakona when she was on a venture to write and put together her book " Sisters ". What a wonderful adventurous time that was, sharing her memories.and her photos and her excitement over a life she experienced and cherished so many years ago. She was so fun! We had a few pajama parties and would talk for hours on end..I was so facinated over her driving all the way from California to Alaska and back. But she had her friend next to her when she was on the road...stuffed pillows where she drew a face and put a baseball cap on top to look like she wasnt alone, for her safety. We had luncheons and drives and so enjoyed each others company. I was ecstatic when her book "Sisters" was published. She was so proud! She said she couldnt have done it without the help of her family...She called me daughter, and was always giving me such good advise. I will forever hear her sweet voice on the phone telling me that I am special, and that God loves me, and to always believe that he is there and to believe in myself...Thank you Samme...I will miss you Honey...The Heavens are fortunate to have you...We were fortunate to have you..We will meet again........ Forever,  Lynn"

This tribute was added by Carol Hendricksen on 18th May 2014

"I met Samme on one of the genealogy sites. Her grandfather
Anneximander  was a brother to my great grandmother Sarah Wade Gallaher .  Samme graciously shared lots and lots of info and pictures with me.  She even invited my aunt and uncle and I out to visit her in California where we all had great fun! I remember my aunt and uncle and Samme singing 1930's songs at the top of their lungs while rollinng down the highway to Yosemite.  Samme authored several wonderful books and I think that she could show us all how to live life to its fullest"

This tribute was added by Lynn Byerley on 18th May 2014

"I am so very sorry for you loss.  Thank you for setting up this page and giving me a chance to let you know how dear Samme was to me.  Samme and my father-in-law, Faye Byerley were 1st cousins; her father and his mother “Bess” were brother and sister.  I met Samme back in 2009 through an inquire I made on And we have kept in touch ever since.  She has been a great help in my family research.  She sent me copies of old Gallaher family photos and shared many family stories.  Even though I never met her face to face, I will miss her.  My love and prayers are with your and your family.
Lynn Byerley from Goddard, Kansas"

This tribute was added by joyce holder on 18th May 2014

"Sammy was my husband, John's, cousin.  John and I were delighted to meet Sammy about 15 yrs ago.  We flew out to California with Carol Hendricksen (who is the one who found Sammy) and enjoyed spending several days with Sammy as she competently drove us around to see the sights.  At first, I was worried about an 86 yr old woman in charge of the driving....not to worry.  Sammy was a great guide and a very loving, pleasant companion.  We've enjoyed reading several of her books.  She will be missed."

This tribute was added by Geri Mankey on 12th May 2014

"It was quite an adventure having Samme in our family's home for 15 years, but most of all a great blessing to share her life and endeavors.  We cherish the many friends we have met through her!  She was the last of her generation in my family, and she will be greatly missed and fondly remembered for the rest of our lives."

Leave a Tribute:
Invite your family and friends
to visit this memorial:

Subscribe to receive e-mail notifications when others contribute to this memorial.

This memorial is administered by:

Geri Mankey


Have a suggestion for us?

We are waiting for your feedback!