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When you were around Sammy Poole during the USDGC, you were most likely smiling and enjoying some of his famous ice cream.
Sammy’s ice cream and his service over the years were a tradition as rich as any that sprung from the tournament.
This year, however, his health had deteriorated to the point that Sammy could not attend for the first time in the Championship’s 14-year history.
Sammy Poole, of Waxhaw, N.C., died a few weeks after the Championship at the age of 70.
USDGC Staffer Sam Covington, who knew Poole for many years, had fond memories of the man and said a big part of Poole was his selflessness.
“He is a giving spirit. That’s what it’s all about,” said Covington, winner of the 2002 USDGC Golden Rake Award for outstanding volunteer service.
Ice cream was just one facet of the devout Christian minister, who was also the father to USDGC Event Director Jonathan Poole. Before Parkinson’s disease forced him to retire, Poole, who loved to sing, traveled across the country and other parts of the globe spreading the gospel through his music ministry. Over the years, he made many gospel recordings, some of which can be heard on his Good Shepherd Ministries web site www.SammyPoole.com.
His ice cream, which eventually grew to 119 flavors, started out as a ministry, too. He saw the potential of it after making the treat during a Texas revival and after sending it as a care package to people going through hard times.
After Poole introduced his ‘Like a Hug from Heaven’ to the Championship – event staff, volunteers, and fans would annually seek out Sammy in the Winthrop Shack for a taste of flavors like Peanut Butter Chocolate.
“For several years, in October, I have taken 25 gallons, or so, to the US Disc Golf Championship at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, SC, and hundreds of players, staff, and patrons, have served themselves all the ice cream they wanted. It has proven to be a bright spot for the players, and a happy event for me,” Poole wrote in his ice cream recipe book, “Sammy Poole’s Ice Cream Sanctuary Presents: Like a Hug from Heaven.”
Sammy, who overcame cancer in 1975, was honored for his USDGC service with the 2005 Golden Rake Award.
One of the original USDGC volunteers, Brian Mace of Texas, knew Poole for more than a decade and believed you couldn’t say enough positives about the man.
“I got a lot of great memories from the USDGC, but my friendship with Sammy Poole is one of the greatest memories,” said Mace, also a Golden Rake Award winner.
USDGC Staffer Zeb Campbell, a longtime family friend, visited Sammy in hospice care and asked him if he wanted USDGC staff to continue his ice cream tradition at the tournament. Upon hearing that, Sammy perked up, according to Campbell, and replied with a definite yes.
“It was pretty awesome to see him light up in the condition he was in. I wrote down the flavors and promised I’d have his ice cream back at the Championship in 2013,” said Campbell, who designed the layout for his ice cream recipe book.
Sammy Poole is survived by his wife of 45 years, Paula, son Jonathan and his wife Laurie, grandsons Max and Kellen, and many other family members.
Memorial services will be held Monday October 29th at 11 a.m. in the Chapel at Calvary Church, 5801 Pineville-Matthews Road, Charlotte.
To learn more about Sammy, his career, and his family go to SammyPoole.com