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The True Southern Gentleman

11/04/2014

Urban Dictionary defines a Southern Gentleman as, “A man from the south, has a southern Accent, sometimes wears boots. Likes music like Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Credence Clearwater Revival and can be heard singing Ring of Fire allot. He also enjoys hunting, finishing, classic American cars, sunflower seeds and fresh meat. Southern Gentlemen are mainly known for their respect of women, hate it when other guys abuse girls, they stick up for girls, call them beautiful, hold doors, and walk them to class.”

This described Samuel Wimberly perfectly. I first met Samuel in August of 2010 when we took AP European History together. This was my first full year at my high school, since I had transferred there during the second semester of my first year. I sat down next to him and said,

“Wow, your tall”, I exclaimed

“Yeah, I know. I’m Samuel, but all of my friends call me ‘Sasquatch.’

That nickname certainly described him perfectly. He was very tall and had hair all over his body. That nickname was given to him by his football teammates. That conversation would lead to a friendship that would continue until his death on February 25, 2012. He died over our Mardi Gras Break in 2012. I was on vacation in Dallas, TX. I was sitting in a “Snuffers”, which is a popular restaurant chain in Dallas, when I got a phone call from a friend of mine. I was completely devastated. Sam was 17 and I had seen him a few days earlier, where he was sick, but I did not think anything of it. After I got the news of his passing, I went and posted the following on Facebook:

“Today we lost one of the kindest people that I have ever met. You could never catch Samuel Wimberly in a bad mood. He always looked on the bright side of life, even when things were bleak. I always admired his work ethic and determination. He was the type of person that you could always depend on. He would help anyone who asked for it. We lost not only one of the great leaders on the football team, but in the school as well. I am glad to have not only considered him as a teammate, but also as a great friend. My thoughts and prayers are with the Wimberly family. RIP Sam.”

Brant Grace, who was also good friends with Samuel before his sudden passing, recently spoke with me about Samuel. He shared with me what his favorite memory of him was.

This is a photo collage that was made for my school's website after his passing

This is a photo collage that was made for my school’s website after his passing

“The thing that I will remember the most about him has to be how care free he was. He lived his life on a day-by-day basis. He was not the type of person to look into the future or into the past. He only saw the good in people. Sam was the type of person to pick you up when you were having a terrible day. You could always count on him to be a friend to him whenever you needed one,” asserted Brant.

My favorite memory of Samuel occurred after we lost in the semi-finals of the playoffs during my junior year of high school. We had just lost in a heart-breaking fashion by the way of turnovers and mistakes on special teams. Sam was walking around the locker room encouraging all of us and telling us that we needed to keep our heads up. I was very despondent and he walked over to me and said the following:

“Don’t worry about this one J.B. I am going to guarantee you right now that we will be playing for the state championship this time next year,” exclaimed Samuel.

Those words of encouragement made me feel better, but I never really believed that we would win the state championship until we actually did it. That was a moment that I will remember for the rest of my life.

When my high school football team played during the 2012 season, we made sure to dedicate that entire season to him and to his family. We converted his locker into a shrine in his honor. We hung up his jersey, helmets, and cleats. We also hung a picture up in the locker as well. I was genuinely thrilled to learn that after putting it up two and a half years ago, it is still there and being maintained. We also retired his number before the first home game of the season as well.

Not a single day goes by where I do not think about Samuel and what he meant to me. He was a friend to me whenever I needed one, no matter what the reason was. He was a man of deep faith and used that to guide the way he lead his life. He was the model for how someone should lead his or her life.

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