Sammy Lee Denton Jr. was born April 13, 1964 in La Junta, Colorado, son of Sammy Lee Sr. and Virginia Donagan. He grew up on the family ranch in Villegreen, Colorado - canyon and cap rock country. It was there that his father instilled in him the value of a hard day's work. As well as working on the ranch, he cut fence posts from pinon trees, helped neighboring ranchers, rode pens at the La Junta sale barn and spent several seasons on custom harvest crews. It was one such crew owned by Burns McCray that brought Sam to Manchester with his first wife and son, Craig. His only daughter Sami-Jo was soon to follow. In addition to working for McCray's, Sam baled and hauled hay, scrapped iron, and did whatever it took to pay the bills.
On October 14, 1989 Sam married Rachel Meyer and they moved to Harper so he could manage the Co-Op station. Sam and Rachel had two sons, Cord and Carson.
As a young man, Sam had a little problem with a condition called "lead foot." Living far from town and being broke most of the time Sam had to teach himself how to fix all those motors that just kept blowing up and breaking down. It was that knowledge that he used to establish Sam's Repair. At first he would mechanic in the evening after he was done with the day at Co-Op using the extra income to invest in tools. He had finally found his niche.
Sam became a 3rd Degree Mason in the Harper Masonic Lodge, and in 1998 joined the Midian Shrine and Harper County Buckin Ts'. He held a deep love for the Shrine and some of the proudest moments of his life were when he realized the dream of having his sons join in the brotherhood alongside him.
Sam had a strong sense of family, and liked to keep his close. He expected them to stop by at least every few days, and if not-he was a little miffed! Anyone who was around Sam and Rachel much knew that Rachel could not catch a break! If something went wrong-Rachel did it. Sam drops a spoon in the kitchen-Rachel. Didn't matter that she was in another room at the time. Sam preyed on Rachel's gullibility at every turn. If she made an observation or comment, Sam would shake his head and say "Oh Rachel". Always with love and humor, but he just could not resist.
It was his life's work to instill in his children what his father had taught him - work ethic and integrity. He always said if you want something and can't afford it-work harder! All four of Sam's kids spent many hours on the job with their dad. Craig and Sami-Jo rode along on the hay-wagon many times. When he could he would put the kids to a task and keep them busy. Sam never cared about sports or extra-curricular activities, and couldn't figure out why the kids wouldn't rather be cutting firewood all day then going to some silly practice! It taught them more. Sam was very proud of all of his children and loved seeing the productive adults they had become. The births of his grandchildren always brought a tear to his eye and he loved watching them grow as well (as long as they were quiet!)
Sam had many passions and was always doing something. He loved to cook and wanted people around to eat. He loved days when people would come to shoot trap or targets, or just talk about their guns. He loved when kids asked his advice. He loved camping and fishing. He loved getting new toys and showing them to all his friends. He loved making fun of his friends who didn't ride Harleys. He loved parades and smiles on the kid's faces. He loved sitting in his garage with his parents, and Rachel, and his kids, and his friends, and his kids friends. He loved his visits with his siblings. He loved motorcycles and the trips he would take on them, long or short. He loved hog hunting and South Texas, and crawfish. He loved shenanigans and beer and whiskey and scotch. He loved Johnny Cash, and Texas Troubadours and dancing--although his moves looked like a spider!! He loved God and Country and Harper County! And he loved his dog.
When Sam found out his cancer was terminal, he chose to do it his way. He didn't want to waste his last good days miserable with the chemo. He never gave up, got depressed or quit dreaming. He wanted to live until he couldn't. He understood that God was his pilot and he was along for the ride. The day before he passed, Sam was sitting in his garage, Twisted Tea in his hand - exactly where he wanted to be. We will remember his laugh, his strength and grace. Rest in Peace, Sammy Lee Denton Jr.
On December 23, 2018, Sam passed away at his home. He was preceded in death by his father and birth mother.
Sam will be forever missed by his wife, Rachel; children: Craig Denton, Sami Francis and husband, Bobby, Cord Denton and companion Katie Hendrick and Carson Denton; mother, Ginger Denton; siblings: Tammy Pate, Joe Denton and Bill Denton; 8 grandchildren: Tipton and Rowan Francis, Rustin, Kelby and Samuel Denton, Evan and Kennedy Jefferis and Chesney Passet; his beloved companion canine, Governor; a host of other relatives; and many, many dear friends.
A Celebration of Sam's Life will be held 5:00 p.m. Saturday, December 29, 2018 at the Harper Masonic Lodge/Shrine Hall in Harper, Kansas.
Memorials in memory of Sam may be made to the Shrine Plane of Mercy or to Heartland Hospice and may be sent in care of the funeral home.
Prairie Rose Funeral Homes, 602 E. Main St., Anthony, KS 67003, is in charge of arrangements.