Obituary of Sam Poulos
Oct 22, 1920 - April 20, 2018
Long time Northbrook resident and one of its original advocates for youth, Sam Poulos peacefully passed to eternal life on Friday, April 20, 2018.
Born October 22, 1920 in Council Bluffs Iowa to Thomas and Mary (Kokinos) Poulos, Sam grew up in Chicago, Illinois, attended Crane Tech, and proudly served our country in the United States Army during WWII. He and Army pal, Jim Smith, started an industrial sewing machine business in Chicago which served a flourishing garment industry after the war. As that industry relocated overseas, General Sewing Machine adapted to service all types of industrial and residential sewing machines for upholstery companies, dressmakers, furniture makers, specialty, trampoline and safety equipment manufacturers and other businesses throughout the Midwest.
From the late 1950s, Sam served the youth of the North Shore volunteering his time coaching, managing or assisting pony and/or colt leagues, and most memorably the Northbrook Speed Skating and Mid-America Speed Skating Clubs. When it was cold enough for ice, Sam and others from the club would “flood” the infield of the Meadowhill Bike Track, where many national and international champions first learned and then developed their skills. He started the Mid-America Speed Skating Club in 1987 because he felt it was important to have opportunities to participate in sports but to use whatever funds necessary on equipment rather than dues. Sam's advocacy for youth, his commitment to the development of young people into successful adults stemmed from his own youth – attending after school clubs where his participation in sports helped heal his physical body after falling from a 3-story building at 9 years of age, while developing his positive, problem-solving attitude and a genuine belief in and compassion for people.
Sam epitomized volunteerism – giving his time willingly, selflessly, and genuinely. His positive attitude, loving and gentle spirit encouraged individuals to set goals to reach their dreams. His caring and supportive manner instilled confidence and developed champions - not just in sports but in life. His own children’s and grandchildren’s successes attest to Sam’s dedication to their individual preferences, interests and strengths. The hundreds of others whose lives were touched by his positive and creative training sessions (at the hill with the boombox) and the numerous successes they achieved attest to his unwavering belief in the value of every individual, the importance of treating everyone respectfully, and the faith that treating others as you would want to be treated would be reward in itself.
Over the years, Sam also volunteered as an official at local, national, international and Olympic skating events, serving as timer, judge/official, and expert skate rocker/sharpener. In addition to summer speed skating training, he assisted local youth on annual baseball trips to Canada. After his health declined, he looked forward to the many visits, emails, phone calls, lunches and time “his athletes” and friends would spend with him. Family was important and to Sam everyone he helped became a member of his extended family. The pictures on his website (now lost) reminded all viewers of his humor, his dedication and the love he shared with everyone.
Married for 75 years (“that’s a long time!”), Sam is survived by his beautiful, loving and devoted wife, Nelda, children, Linda (Ted), Leah, and Sam II, and grandchildren, Samantha and Mathew (Danielle). We have been so blessed to call him husband, Dad, Grrrpa and friend. Predeceased by his parents, brother, James Poulos, sister, Georgia (Poulos) Schwartz, Sam is also survived by many loving relatives, nieces and nephews, cousins, friends and hundreds of athletes who will always cherish their memories, blessed by the one of a kind, they don’t make ‘em like this anymore, “Coach” Sam.
The family would like to thank the staff at Rosewood, especially Tatiana, Agnes, Justina, as well as roommate, James S., for their compassion these last months. Special thanks also to Maria, Freddie and Gerardo, for the compassionate and respectful care they provided.
A memorial celebration of Sam’s wonderful life will be held Thursday, May 3, 2018, between 6:00 and 8:00 P.M. at the Kolssak Funeral Home, 189 S. Milwaukee Avenue, Wheeling, Illinois. In lieu of flowers, donations are appreciated and may be made to The Hendricks Foundation - FBO K. Lynch Memorial Garden, Box 7470, Buffalo Grove, IL 60089.