Samuel Perry Townsend, Sr., 78, passed away Saturday, September 6, 2014. Sam was born in Robeson County, and graduated from Millbrook High School and NC State University. He derived great satisfaction from his 40-year career with the North Carolina State Department of Cultural Resources. Early in his service at the NC Museum of History, Sam developed a method to preserve Civil War era artifacts recovered from the Modern Greece blockade runner, which was sunk off the coast of Fort Fisher. Sam helped develop the first NC Underwater Archeology Branch, which he ran for more than a decade. His career culminated with his service as Administrator of the NC State Capitol and Visitors Center, during which time he created the NC State Capitol Foundation. After retirement, he was proud to remain on the Capitol Foundation Board. Sam was a devoted member of Trinity United Methodist Church, serving as a longtime co-teacher of the Tom Moye Sunday School Class, and on various committees. From his early childhood up until his marriage in 1960, he was a member of New Hope Baptist Church. Until his illness, Sam played on 2 softball teams, kept his family and friends supplied with beautiful flowers from his garden, and enjoyed the quiet art of fishing.
Sam is survived by his wife of 54 years, Mary Ellen Tribby Townsend, and son, Samuel Perry Townsend, Jr. of Astoria, NY; sisters: Miriam S. Rawls and husband, Bill of Raleigh, Patricia S. “Trish” Baars of Washington, DC, and Frances S. Dreps of Durham; sisters-in-law: Kay Lassiter Smith of Wake Forest and Marie “Ree” Tribby Carroll and husband, Dan of Knoxville, TN; and a host of nieces, nephews and close friends.
Sam was preceded in death by his parents, Mary Lee Townsend Smith, and Gordon H. “Pete” Smith, and his brother, Joseph S. “Joe” Smith, and his dear friends, Jimmy and Jeanne Wilder.
A celebration of Sam’s life will be held at 2:00 pm, Thursday, September 11, 2014 at Trinity United Methodist Church, 824 N. Bloodworth Street, Raleigh. Burial will follow at Raleigh Memorial Park. The family will receive relatives and friends from 4:00 to 6:00 pm, Wednesday, September 10, 2014 at Trinity United Methodist Church and other times at their home.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Trinity United Methodist Church and/or NC State Capitol Foundation, Inc., 4624 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-4624.
Condolences to the family may be sent to poolefuneral.com under Obituaries.
Sam’s family would like to express their sincere gratitude for the care given by Dr. Elizabeth Campbell and the staff of Cancer Centers of North Carolina.