Share a special moment from Samuel's life.

Shared by Richard Austin on September 18, 2015

I am so saddened to find my pal, buddie, Dear Friend here. I looked and looked unsuccessfully for years to find Sam. I was born 5 days before Sam and we used to say how lucky we were to have missed April 1st :) We spent so many hours together - Listening to, Playing at joints, traveling to NYC and Boston to hear the greats of "JAZZ, man JAZZ"
We were first together at HTU! Ellison Field Pensacola Fl - I was sent to sea duty and when I returned I was sent to Cecil Field Jacksonville. When I got off the USS Coral Sea at Mayport Fl --- There he was on the dock ! Sam the Man Pilch. We joined up with a small jazz group - me guitar, Sam on Drums and were there until I was discharged 6/23/56

During the Jacksonville period I traveled home with Sam and stayed for several days in the Bronx - There was nothing like seeing NYC Jazz with Sam - especially with a guy whose dad was a cab driver - Sam had the magic phone number
 just gave a call and Dad showed up and took us on to the next stop.

Here is a inside story - When were  traveling to NY on the train Sam told me he was a little worried about bringing me home because I was not Jewish ! - So he told me he was going to introduce me as Dick Shapiro  That made me very nervous as I am Scotch.  Anyway it was just a ruse and Sam and his mother in their other tongue had a great time with the little joke and on the second morning told me their ploy and it was a great laff for them - a great relief for me!

There was so much fun and so many things to remember - We were walking along B'way and coming towards us was Ed Sullivan - Sam - dragging me right along just waklked right up to him and said " Hi Mr Sullivan I happened to notice you and I was wondering who you were going to have on you show this week - This is my friend Dick and we home on leave fron the Navy for a few days - I figured Ed would would call a cop - but he didn't - he chatted with us for a minute or two - shook hands - and went on his way - and that was just the way it was with Sam - he had big brass one's if the situation callrd for it!

back north after - Navy Discharge 
I was working with a tree removal outfit in Framingham Ma and playing in several of the clubs in the area waiting to get into college in the fall semester.  Sam called one  day - hopped on a train in NY and got off in Framingham.  We spent a couple of days doing the Boston Jazz clubs and Sam went back to NYC

About a year or so later I was married  and on the Thanksgiving weekend after I called Sam and my new wife and I drove to NYC - got together with Bob Mello [another sailor we were with in Jacksonville era] went out for dinner and then to Birdland for the evening - so that is the picture I have and downloaded here.

So we had no place to stay so we spent the night on a matress on the floor in Sam's folks living room - it was fun - first about 2:00 AM in come Sams father who thought it was probably one of his daughters bunking in - woke us up and scared the heck out of us !!  Sam got up and explained the whole thing and we settled down again  -  Then somwhere in the early hours  an elderly man [I think he was Sam's grandfather] came shuffeling along with a string of little pots and things around his neck and also tried to figure out what was going on - It now seems hillarious - I hope you all are laffing ?

After that Sam dropped out of sight and I supposed it was the same for me - college work family - but I never saw Sam again - with the computer age I began looking for Sam everywhere and yesterday hit on this memorial site

There is still the dearest place in my heart for Sam and I am thankful to have at least been able to re-live these thougts here with all of you.

I am now 81 - I do not play Guitar very much - once in a while to sit in somewhere or to amuse myself and sing my wife a song - We are the couple on the left of the Birdland pix

I will be happy to hear from any and all and reminice or answer any questions you may have.

Sincerely, Dick

Shared by Greg Elmassian on December 23, 2014

When I met Sam, you could tell by his build he did something pretty physical in his life, it took me several years to pull it out of him, and even more to get the picture of him doing the lift and this clipping from 1959, notice about 2/3 of the way down, he actually did a new record lift of 245 pounds in the press category.

Shared by Greg Elmassian on December 23, 2014

I remember Sam talking about how he gave Ginger a bath, he'd take her out to the park when the grass was wet. She was so "low slung" the wet grass would just wash off the undercarriage, so to speak. He always laughed about Ginger running the in the wet grass that was about as tall as she was.

Weschester Community College

Shared by Peter Pope on January 2, 2012

 Well Sam - I finally found you

We were clasmates at Westchester Community College (WCC), class of 1960-Electrical

Of all of the clasmates I had It seems the only name I could remember over the years was Sam Pilch.  That was because  we had fun together in class and like you I enjoyed good old New York Sarcastic humour and tried to make light of even the most serious of issues.

Just the other day I received my copy of the  WCC alumnai book and was elated to find your name just above mine and that you lived in Cardiff.  I immediately went to the internet to search for you and a telephone number and of course , much to my disappointment, found this memorial.

Like you I lived in Minnisota for a time, and in the San Diego area =Del Mar Heights, Solana Beach and Rancho Bernardo.  Perhaps our paths crossed and we didn't know it.

It sounds like you had a great life and that family was very important to you.  Me too.  You have a son named Jeff and so do I. Great minds think alike!!

They say there are not many pictures of you since you were the photographer.  The WCC 1960 yearbook has several of you including your graduation picture and I would be glad to scan them and send them to whomever would like them.


Your classmate and long ago friend, Peter F. Pope


Uncle Sam

Shared by Cheryl Miller-Fitzgerald on October 15, 2011

My uncle died recently, just before the holidays started, and plans for his memorial service soon got lost in mounds of wrapping paper and mounting credit card bills.

He and his family had lived on the west coast for decades, and they decided to postpone his service indefinitely.  As the “designated east coast cousin” I had to tell his three sisters and their numerous children.

“Memorial service?” his oldest sister, my mom, asked.  “What memorial service?  Jews don’t have memorial services.  Besides, he’s gone, what is there left to say?”

With time, the need to memorialize my uncle diminished, eventually becoming a parenthesis on my to-do list.

Until the day after Christmas, when my family and I found ourselves in a small Episcopal church celebrating Kwanzaa.  We were the only non-African Americans besides the organist, who was my son’s piano teacher.  Since beginning lessons, classical music had taken us to many places where we were often in the minority. 

A tall, graceful man who could easily pass for Samuel Jackson ushered the five children in the room to his side, and then paused in front of the kinara, which held seven candles representing African ancestors.    

“Who wants a penny?”

Three of the children, two of whom were mine, raised their hands.

“The youngest ones have asked for the penny, “ he said, handing them the pennies with a smile. 

“Now, who wants this quarter?”

This time all of the children raised their hand.

“Do you see how the older ones waited, and wanted more?”  He looked at his audience, nearly filling the church despite forecasts of an approaching blizzard.  “We should all want more.”

He then turned back to the children.  “What kind of candy do you like?”

Without hesitation, they all yelled out their favorites. 

“Well, if you make enough money, you will be able to buy all the candy you want…But, what if the candy you want isn’t there?”

They looked at him and shrugged, wondering if he was going to hand them candy this time.

“That’s why, you want to earn enough money to buy a candy store.  So you can be sure you will always have the candy you want.”

He went on like that, teaching the principles that symbolize the holiday, stories about helping each other in work and play, about finding purpose in life, and about making themselves heard. 

“Now speak your name, loud and clear, and then your parents’ names, as you walk towards them,” he told the children.. 

And then he turned his attention on those parents, and asked them to name someone they had lost.  “Not to remember them, but to revere them.  To acknowledge their presence in life,” he said.   He came to me first, handing me a small, ceramic cup.

I looked at him.

"Speak up," he said.

"My Uncle Sam," I said.  "He just died.” 

“He also lived.  Say his name loud, and hold this cup high,” he said.

"Uncle Sam.  Pilch," I said, so loudly, that everyone looked at me, and nodded.

And I realized that right there, in that small, suburban, Episcopalian African American church we all memorialized my very white, very Jewish uncle on the first day of Kwanzaa.  And I think he would have laughed at that.  He loved to laugh, just as much as he loved telling stories that made others laugh. This would have been one of them.

Besides, he never fit into any one mold.  He'd been raised in a Yeshiva, yet didn't impose Judaism on his children.  He constantly searched for his purpose in life, long after he stopped working.  He never stopped helping others whenever he could.  And he always told others to follow their dreams, which could be anything from writing the great American novel, or owning a candy store.

Both of my sons then joined me, smiling – no doubt thinking about all that candy they were going to be eating one day.

And so my sons got an economics lesson they’d never forget and my Uncle Sam’s life was rightfully remembered, and respected.

- From a blog post written on January 1st, 2011


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