Samuel Major Hunter was born on March 21, 1942, to Stephen ("Sam") and Frankie Mae Hunter in Jakin, Georgia. Raised on a farm in Early County, Georgia, near the Alabama and Florida borders, Sam was the youngest of six children. Sam graduated from Washington High School in May 1960 as the Class Salutatorian. While attending high school, Sam enjoyed playing basketball and baseball and running track.
After high school, Sam attended Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina, from 1960-1961. In December 1961, Sam moved to Tampa, Florida, and received his first job at Harris Paints, being the first African-American hired into the company. Sam worked at Harris Paints and attended Gibbs Junior College part time until 1964 after deciding to take a year off from school. During Sam’s employment at Harris Paints, Sam’s brother Frank informed the owner that Sam quit school. As a result, Harris Paints offered to pay his tuition to Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU). Sam attended FAMU from 1965-1966 before being drafted into the United States Army.
Sam entered military service at Fort Benning, Georgia, where he received basic training and school as a 32B Radio Mechanic before joining the conflict in Vietnam. He served in the Army from 1966-1969 and was honorably discharged as a SPC5 (Specialist 5).
After leaving the Army, Sam continued his college education in 1969 at the University of South Florida as a part-time student while working full-time at Harris Paints. In 1973, as a senior at USF, Sam realized that he was more of a "hands-on" learner. He left USF to attend trade school, where he gained a deeper understanding of electricity as it applies to everyday life.
After finishing trade school, Sam began working for Pabst Brewing Company. He worked at Pabst from 1973-1988 as a Maintenance Mechanic before joining Tampa Electric Company (TECO) in 1989. While at TECO, Sam earned his Hazardous Material Certification as a Production Apprentice. He retired from TECO on April 1, 2007.
Sam enjoyed playing golf since he was introduced to the sport at Rogers Park Golf Course in 1964. He received instruction and guidance from numerous people for almost 50 years. The most memorable advice he received came from 1994 Golf Hall of Fame Player Jim Dent. After watching Sam hit a few balls on the golf range, Jim Dent commented to Sam, "Your ball stays in the air a long time; do not let anyone change your swing".
Sam enjoyed four hole-in-one golf shots throughout his 40+ years of playing golf. The first hole-in-one was on hole number 15 at Rogers Park Golf Course. The only witness to this magnificent shot was GOD. The second hole-in-one occurred on June 13, 2003, at the Tampa Palms Golf and Country Club, witnessed by E. B. Blanton. The third hole-in-one occurred the following month on July 12, 2003, at the Walden Lake Golf and Country Club, witnessed by E. B. Blanton and Starlin Martin. The most memorable hole-in-one was achieved at the Eagles Golf Club’s Forest Course on hole number four. The well-struck ball earned Sam a brand- new Chevy Tahoe SUV. There were several witnesses on hand to view this memorable shot.
In addition to being an avid golfer, Sam was well known for his small business providing home improvement and maintenance services for over 30 years in the community. Sam was an excellent double deck pinochle player. When he left the golf course, he could be found at the Cotton Club, where he held court as often as possible. Sam made it a point to enjoy life to its fullest.
He leaves to cherish his memory five children: Derek Hunter, Darin Hunter and wife Wanda, Danae Aicher and husband Christian, Charles Darby and wife Jacqueline, and Devin Hunter; nine grandchildren; three brothers; one sister; and a host of nephews, nieces, cousins, other relatives and friends.
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