Robert Samuel

Robert Samuel

VOORHEESVILLE — Robert Samuel, a lover of nature and his teaching career in Voorheesville, died last Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2016. He was 69.

Mr. Samuel was born in Schenectady in 1947. His family later moved to Burnt Hills, and he graduated from Burnt Hills’ high school in 1964. He then went to the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse to study zoology. It was there that he met his future wife, Lynne, who was studying at Syracuse University.

In high school, Mr. Samuel volunteered with the West Charlton Volunteer Fire Department in Schenectady County, where his parents lived. Later, in the summers during his years at college, he worked for the United States Forest Service, fighting fires in California. However, he was soon drawn from fighting fires to teaching children.

Mr. Samuel graduated from college in 1968. That same year, he and Mrs. Samuel were married. Mr. Samuel also began teaching at Voorheesville’s junior and senior high school that year. He first taught biology, but eventually taught all the scientific subjects as he made his way to being chairman of the Science Department.

“He kind of picked up all of them,” said Mrs. Samuel, of the many subjects he taught. She added that his favorite course to teach was eighth grade science, though she was never sure why.  

After teaching for 10 years, Mr. Samuel received his master’s degree in education from the University at Albany.

Mr. Samuel also coached junior-varsity wrestling and soccer, and taught adult education classes. His long hours spent at the school did not go unrecognized. Mrs. Samuel described how, even after her husband had retired from his 34 years of teaching, former students would still come to see him, some of whom had graduated 30 years ago.

Mr. and Mrs. Samuel lived in Voorheesville for 30 years, partially so Mr. Samuel could be close to work, but also because of his appreciation for a country setting. Mrs. Samuel says that his parents’ home in West Charlton was in a rural area, surrounded by fields and cows. Voorheesville was familiar in that regard, which he preferred after living in Guilderland.

“Guilderland was very…populated,” said Mrs. Samuel.

Mr. Samuel also enjoyed hunting and fishing; he was a member of the Elsmere Rod and Gun Club and the New Scotland Beagle Club. Mrs. Samuels estimated her husband owned seven beagles over the years

“He used to run them in the field trails, that’s why he joined the beagle club,” she said. His wife’s one complaint was that the dogs would shed enough fur “to make another beagle.”

Mr. Samuel also traveled to go hunting or fishing; he often would go with his father to meet his brother in Long Island to saltwater fish. One fishing trip gave him a bit of fame.

“The quirky thing about him,” said Mrs. Samuel, “He went down to Martha’s Vineyard, and was one of the first people to report Ted Kennedy’s car in the water at Chappaquiddick.”

What would later become known as the “Chappaquiddick incident” involved Senator Ted Kennedy driving his car off a bridge and into a tidal channel at Chappaquiddick Island in Massachusetts in the summer of 1969. The senator’s passenger drowned. Mrs. Samuel says her husband can be seen standing on the bridge above the partially-submerged car in one of the news’ photos of the scene.

Summing up her husband’s personality, Mrs. Samuel said, “He was fun, had a sense of humor, and was extremely loyal to his friends, and full of energy.”

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Robert Samuel is survived by his wife, Lynne Samuel; by his three brothers, Victor Samuel, and his wife, Lynn, Richard Samuel, and his wife, Eileen; and Douglas Samuel; and by two nieces and six nephews.

Arrangements for his memorial and burial will be made at a later date.

Donations in his memory may be made to the Voorheesville Central School District at 432 New Salem Rd., Voorheesville, NY 12186, for a scholarship in his name.

— H. Rose Schneider

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