Samuel I. Reber, Jr, age 80, died on his own terms May 25, 2021, at the home he shared with his daughter Holly. Sam was born August 10, 1940, at home on the banks of the Susquehanna River in Sunbury, Pa. There he was lovingly raised by his mother Bettie, grandmother Irma, and great-grandmother Katie Mom, until they settled in Williamsport, Pa. It was there that his schooling began,one day behind his classmates, as he chose to skip the first day of school.
Years later, his grandmother received a telegram from Ohio that would change his family’s lives forever. It was a Tuscarawas County marriage proposal that catapulted them from fast cars, big city lights, peg-legged jeans, young fashionistas, and the beautiful mountains that Williamsport had to offer, to what seemed like 100 years back in time. When he woke his first morning to the sound of clip-clop, clip-clop, he peered out his window, rubbed his eyes, and thought perhaps he was having a nightmare. It was only then that he learned of the Goshen Dairy and their horse-drawn wagons. He enrolled in New Philadelphia High School where he left involuntarily, after reaching the 9th grade twice, culminating in an expulsion.
Sam embarked on the next chapter of his life by claiming his high school sweetheart, Christina Gray, after stealing her away from her boyfriend. He joined the United States Navy on his mother's 41st birthday. In the Navy, Sam was a successful multitasking Morse code operator, tapping out 47 words per minute. He learned the back roads of Manila while honing his scooter skills, water skiing with the crew of Danny, Duane Pavel, and Lambert, (the guy who cashed the paychecks,) all the while conditioning his palate for delicious barbecue. One of the highlights of his Navy career was the Navy party for Philippines orphans.
After successfully completing his Naval commitment, a mere two weeks after obtaining his GED, Sam returned to Tuscarawas County, where he obtained employment at a large local manufacturing plant. There he was affectionately known as employee #71389, unofficial company photographer, work-related T-shirt creator and model, an upstanding union member, and with Dennis Ditcher, a distributor of the company underground newsletter, the Trebuchet, until management put a halt to it.
Sam worked his way to the top of the old-timers list, retiring after 44 years, 4 months, 10 days and 8 hours. During what seemed to him like 1 million long work years, Sam had many successful side hustles, including banana nut loaves—up to 85 at a time; a necktie business, which produced over 1000 handmade ties; and the crown jewel, Sir Gildersleeve's Premium Barbecue Sauce. When he wasn't working hard for "the man," Sam enjoyed spending time with his children and their offspring, gardening, traveling across the country, with and without family, donating generously to the Salvation Army, photography, spending time with friends, canoeing, and camping. An all-around funny, generous, non-judgmental atheist, Sam, like Ron Reagan Jr, wasn't afraid of burning in hell.
Sam was happily married to Christina for over 20 years, during which they shared two four-legged, and four two-legged children. This August they would have celebrated 61 years of marriage from their respective homes in neighboring cities. Their children are Puff E. Reber, Borman "Peedie" Reber, Kelly, Holly, Nikol and Seth. He was a fabulous Grandpa to his nine grandchildren, Katie, Samson (Sid), Carly, Sophia, Lanie, Lili, Ori, Ava, and Izzy, and seven great-grandchildren, Lane, Ryker, Sidney, Henry, Calvin, Otto, and Dexter. Sam is also survived by his sisters Patti Levering and Kim Caulkins, and by anyone who is thoroughly enjoying his obituary. Sam was preceded in death by his mother, Elizabeth “Bettie” Faulk Pritchard Russell Ritter Reber Rutter, his father, a man from Pennsylvania, his sister Patsy Reber, his pioneering grandmother Irma Sowers Russell Bowers, who with her new husband, attorney Charles Bowers, started this New Philadelphia Ohio adventure, his great-grandfather Clarence, a conductor on the Pennsylvania Railroad, and his great-grandmother Katie Mom, founder of the “Unofficial Home of the Friendless" in Sunbury, Pa. It is alleged that Katie Mom still visits the family's New Philadelphia home seven generations later.
With all of Sam's accomplishments, he was a great procrastinator. This led him to being one point shy of 30 gallons of donated blood, one state (Nevada) shy of visiting all 50, and some might even say that he was one card short of a full deck. Well, he was, so if anyone has the four of hearts from a World War II deck, give us a call.
Inurnment will take place at Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery on August 10, 2021, at 11:15 am will military honors will be conducted. To sign an online guest book, for Sam visit www.tolandherzig.com. Memorial contributions can be made to the Latina Cultural Community of Tuscarawas County, Hospice of Tuscarawas County, or the Tuscarawas County Humane Society.
The family would like to thank special friends: Sam’s hospice nurse "Nice Christina,” his good friend Sam Kelley, who always made time for a visit, his tattoo artist Jessica Haney, who made sure that he wasn't just another "unbaked bun" head, and our great friend Judy Ewing. Without Judy’s help, we would never have been able to do this Sam's way.