Vernon Russell Sample
1925 - 2002
Vernon Sample, a conductor and multi-talented brass and woodwind performer whose specialty was trumpet and trombone, taught music in Seventh-day Adventist schools in the Pacific Northwest in the last half of the 20th century. He also served as an administrator, teacher of math and biology, and builder in several construction projects for the North Pacific Union Conference.
Vernon was born and raised in Falls City, Oregon, one of nine children born to William Veck and Laura Mae Logan Sample. His father was personal secretary to A.T. Jones, editor of the Signs of the Times in the 1880s, and worked for Pacific Press. He moved to Oregon after he retired.
Vernon was raised in a home where music was important, and he was involved in music from his earliest years. He attended Laurelwood Academy and following his graduation in 1943, attended Walla Walla College, now University, before being inducted into the army. His son, Jack, would later talk about his father's musical experience while serving in the military:
Dad was in the army for two years in Hawaii right after WWII and played in the army band as a flute player. He played all brass instruments very well, but when there were no openings for any brass, he grabbed a flute and in a week or two was able to audition successfully for an available flute position. He was a well-known bugle player but in one instance was nearly court-martialed for playing taps at the wrong funeral. He was picked up at the proper location but not by the right driver, and when he returned to base, he found he was at the wrong funeral. Fortunately, he had met an Adventist at the funeral who spoke on his behalf, and he was exonerated.
He returned to WWC and completed his education, graduating in the summer of 1951 with a degree in music education and as president of the summer graduating class. He began his teaching career at Upper Columbia Academy that fall. Two years earlier he had married Phyllis Clifton in June 1949.
He conducted the band and choir at UCA for two years. At the end of his second year he was uncertain about continuing in teaching and did construction work for a year at Moses Lake.
In 1954 he became band director at Portland Union Academy, now Portland Adventist Academy, where he taught for the next six years. In 1959 the PUA yearbook, Re-Vista, was dedicated to him in recognition of his work in building the academy band program during the previous five years by creating feeder programs at the lower grade levels. It also noted his diligence and skill in teaching music and his friendly interaction with students and teaching colleagues.
In 1960 he accepted the band position and the teaching of an algebra class at nearby Columbia Academy in Battleground, Washington, following Archie Devitt, who had accepted the band position at Campion Academy in Colorado. A year later, the Samples moved to Falls City, where for the next eight years he would commute to nearby Salem to teach music and initially serve as principal at Livingstone Junior Academy. He also taught mathematics and biology and oversaw the 9th and 10th grade homerooms. In 1969 the family moved to Salem, where he would continue to teach at LJA for two more years.
He then taught music and other subjects briefly at Hood View Junior Academy before moving to Gaston, Oregon, so that his children could live at home and attend Laurelwood Academy. He taught in the elementary school there for a short time and then worked in construction for the conference, building the industrial arts building at LA and several of the buildings at the Oregon camp meeting grounds at Gladstone.
The Samples had five children, one of whom, Jack, became an accomplished trumpet soloist. Following retirement, they moved to Milton-Freewater, Oregon, where they were living when Vernon died, at age 77, following two decades of living with Parkinson's disease.
Sources: North Pacific Union Gleaner, 20 August 1951, 10; 3 September 1951, 6; 13 June 1960, 11; 10 October, 1960, 7; 9 October 1961, 5; 1957 and 1959 Portland Adventist Academy yearbooks, Re-Vista, 24 and 4; 1930 U.S. Federal Census; Social Security Death Index.