Gordon Sams had 100-year impact

Sandra ClarkObits, South Knox

Back in the days when Democrats held virtually every office in the Knox County Courthouse, a young man named Gordon Sams was the register of deeds (1965-1974). He was strikingly handsome and highly energetic. He might have run for governor if Tennesseans had elected folks from Knoxville for a statewide office back then.

Gordon’s life changed though when his daughter, Tina, then 8, was struck by lightning at a summer baseball game in West Knoxville in 1969. She was in a coma for four months and remained bedridden the rest of her life, dying in 1988.

Gordon told a reporter that not a day went by that somebody didn’t ask him, “How’s your little girl?”

His obituary writer had a perfect description of Gordon Sams: “While Napoleonic in stature, Gordon’s presence in the Knoxville community (was) large.” He did a bit of everything, from serving as a Navy gunner’s mate in World War II to opening a jazz club on Cumberland Avenue. After his stint as register of deeds, he served three terms as chair of the Tennessee Housing Development Agency. Meanwhile, he ran an advertising and marketing firm, Gordon Sams & Associates, from 1963-2000.

A lifelong Knoxville resident, he was a member of Graystone Presbyterian Church. And that’s where friends will gather at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, April 29, following graveside services at Woodlawn Cemetery.

Survivors include wife Nancy and four children. The full obituary is here.

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