Charles Samson Jr

Charles Harold Samson, Jr., servant-leader and educator and beloved husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather, passed away Thursday, June 15, 2017. Visitation is scheduled for Monday, June 26, 5:30-7:00 p.m. at Callaway-Jones Funeral Center, Bryan. A Life Celebration Service will be held Tuesday, June 27, at 2 p.m. at A&M United Methodist Church, College Station, following a private family graveside service.

Born July 12, 1924 to Marie Gertrude (Morris) and Charles Harold Samson, Sr., Chuck spent his youth in Portsmouth, Waverly and Dayton, Ohio, earning Eagle Scout ranking in 1938 in Portsmouth. He developed a love for tennis playing in the street (no net) in front of the Portsmouth family home, later gaining Junior Davis Cup training in Cincinnati, Ohio, and lettering every year in high school. He graduated high school from Denver South High School, Colorado.

He returned to Ohio in 1941 for college at The Ohio State University, where, as a varsity tennis team member, he won the Big 10 No. 2 singles and No. 1 doubles. In 1943 he joined the Navy V-2 program and was sent to Notre Dame University, where he pursued civil engineering and varsity tennis. He also began a four-year courtship with a local South Bend, Indiana girl, Ruth Baumbach. At Notre Dame, “Charlie Samson” lettered in tennis for three years, was team captain for two, and was the NCAA singles finalist (losing to Pancho Segura) in 1944. He was commissioned ensign in the Civil Engineering Corps during World War II, continuing after the war in the Naval Reserve until 1956.

He returned to Notre Dame in 1946 to complete his B.S. degree and one year of tennis eligibility. His cross-country tournaments the following summer included the Ohio Valley Tournament, where he won the men’s doubles with Tony Trabert and the singles for the third time, retiring the “Lone Eagle Trophy.” He and Ruth married in late 1947 and stayed in South Bend for Chuck’s completion of his M.S. in Civil Engineering from Notre Dame. His decision to make engineering his career profession over an active tennis career took him to the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1949 for Ph.D. studies in structural engineering.

A move in 1951 to Ft. Worth brought Chuck and Ruth to Texas for his employment with General Dynamics. They welcomed the birth of their daughter, Peggy, in 1952. They returned to Notre Dame the next year, where Chuck served on the faculty in Civil Engineering and was tennis coach for the next two years, which cemented his place at Notre Dame as a “living legend” in the sport. In 1955 he and Ruth welcomed the birth of their son, Charles, III.

Chuck and family returned to Fort Worth and General Dynamics in 1956. In 1960 he accepted an offer to join Texas A&M as professor in Civil and Aerospace Engineering. He soon headed the Structural Research Department at the Texas Transportation Institute as well. This was the start of a distinguished association with Texas A&M that completed his adult professional life splitting time between academic and athletic interests.

In 1964 he was appointed head of Civil Engineering and led the department for the next 15 years.  President Earl Rudder appointed him to the Texas A&M Athletic Council in 1967. In 1970 Chuck became chair and faculty representative to the Southwest Conference (SWC). He was credited with the foresight that expedited Texas A&M’s leadership in the SWC for support for Title IX and women’s sports and gender equity in intercollegiate athletics. He served as SWC president from 1979-1981. He was Texas A&M’s institutional representative to the NCAA from 1972–1985, and was an NCAA vice president from 1981–1983 and NCAA council member from 1983–1985.

Chuck was named acting president of Texas A&M in July, 1980, serving 14 months in that role and subsequently as vice president for planning. In 1994 he retired as professor emeritus, and continued in private consulting for several years.

Throughout his career in teaching and research, he held offices with numerous professional engineering societies, most notably as president of the Texas Society of Professional Engineers and later as president of the National Society of Professional Engineers. He was active with at least nine other organizations connected with the engineering profession, educational system, or public good and held honorary memberships in five honorary engineering societies.

He was named distinguished engineer by the Texas Engineering Foundation in 1981. The University of Notre Dame awarded him an Engineering Honor Award in 1982, and in 1994 nominated him for the Rolex Achievement Award. The University of Missouri-Columbia awarded him an Honor Award in Engineering in 2006.

Chuck was dedicated to the Lord through the United Methodist Church. A serious student of the Bible, he taught church-school classes over the years and more recently led a bible study for a short period at Watercrest at Bryan. He had many leadership roles serving A&M United Methodist Church, A&M Wesley Foundation and the Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church. He was also active in numerous community organizations, particularly with the Brazos Valley Symphony Society after his retirement.

He was predeceased by his mother and father, Marie Gertrude and Charles, Sr.; his elder sister, Mary June McLaren; and infant daughter, Barbara Ann. Surviving him are his wife of almost 70 years, Ruth Samson of Bryan; daughter, Peggy Samson of Bryan; son and daughter-in-law, Charles and Sherese Samson of Larue, Texas; two grandsons and spouse, Jim Skates of Larue and Keith and Reagan Skates of Paradise, Texas; and great grandsons Easton Skates and Braden Skates of Paradise.

The family extends gratitude to Dr. Elizabeth Berigan, M.D., Internal Medicine Center, Bryan, for Chuck’s care over the years. They also extend appreciation to the caregivers with Right at Home, Bryan, especially Rubie Ali. Special thanks also goes to staff with Encompass Home Health and Hospice for their kindness and care during the last weeks of Chuck’s journey.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a remembrance in Chuck’s memory to A&M United Methodist Church, College Station, or to a charity of choice.


  1. Peggy and Ruth, I am very S orry to learn of the death of Dr. Samson. He left such a legacy in his work and life. I pray you both will know God’s peace and comfort as you adjust to this new phase in your lives.

  2. Peggy,
    My heart goes out to you and your family in the passing of your father. May God’s blessings of comfort and peace be with you and your family.
    Sincerest Sympathy,
    Janet Smyth Parr

  3. Dear Mrs. Samson and Peggy:

    Please accept my sincere condolences and prayers for God’s comfort for the brokenhearted.
    Dr. Samson and I worked on the South West Conference together. Nice memories!

  4. Dear Ruth, Chuck was my civil engineering colleague, my tennis double’s partner at times, and I really looked up to him for his many qualities of friendly yet stern leadership. He hired me in 1978 and that turned out to be a huge moment in my career. Chuck and I became friends and i will miss his savvy advice and his good sense of dry humor. Maybe our tennis matches is what brought us closer together but Chuck became for me much more than another colleague. Hang in there. Jean-Louis.

  5. Chuck,
    We send our condolence for you and your family’s loss. We will keep you and your family in our daily prayers .

  6. Chuck and Family,
    Mark and I are so sorry for the loss of your father.
    Keeping you in our thoughts and prayers,
    Mark & Roxie Pless

  7. Chuck Chuck!!! You will be missed!!! Peggy hang in there, and Gid will comfort you through this hard time. You will always be his Mamacita #1 in his book!! We are so glad to have had time to spend with Chuck and and Ruth, All if the staff at the Isle of Watercrest where he was for his final ride, will always have a special place for you in our hearts Love you Papa!!! Mimi

  8. Ruth Samson and family,

    Barbara and I were saddened to hear of Chuck’s passing. During his 92 years, he made many contributions. He and John Herbich hired me in 1975 and I appreciated their trust in me in ocean engineering. The two of you made many contributions to Texas A&M, Civil Engineering, Professional Engineering Society, and many others. Y’all organized the CE socials in the A&M Methodist Church and I also remember a social at the A&M President’s house when Chuck was interim president. Please accept our condolences and we wish you the best.

    Barbara and Bob Randall

  9. Dear Mrs. Sampson, Charlie gave me a tennis scholarship to ND in 1954 and was my coach for 2 years prior to leaving ND. He was a mentor, leader, great guy and I was blessed to play for him! No question he is with the Lord now! May he RIP.