Samuel Huntington Sandt, waterman, teacher, coach and collector of beach trophies, died unexpectedly on Tuesday, July 30, 2013.
Sam loved (in no particular order) family gatherings; being Jii-chan; food; the Pacific Ocean; his wife Patricia Gozawa Sandt (Pat); traveling, whether to Japan for anthropological study, to China to climb the Great Wall with his son Samuel Sandt or to Michigan to visit his daughter Caroline Goetze (Eugene); a good argument; surfing; sailing; reading; and knowing things.
Food and the gatherings that happen around food were important parts of Sam's life. He and Pat liked to take trips together (he always said he had "itchy feet"), and then they would try to replicate the delicious food they had encountered. He also bought cookbooks. Not that he would follow the recipes. Instead, Sam and Pat added a little bit of this and that to each dish "until it was enough," working together to make meals that were enjoyed by family and friends at their big round dining table. Sons David Hashimoto (Susan) and Kevin Hashimoto, and daughter Karen Hashimoto were frequent visitors.
From almost the moment he moved to California with his mother Ruth Carroll Comings Sandt Gibson (Joseph) (both deceased) and his brothers James Sandt, Philip Sandt, Joseph Gibson, Robert Gibson (deceased) and George Charles Gibson (deceased), Sam's life revolved around the water. He swam competitively, lifeguarded for the L.A. City Department of Parks and Recreation and at Leo Carrillo State Beach (which he insisted on calling Sequit), and spent three years, nine months, twenty-one days, eight hours and fifteen minutes in the navy (Sam claimed he started his short-timer's calendar on his first night in boot camp). He enjoyed his years as a volunteer coach for South High's Swim Team. Sam lived on the water for years, and in the sight of water always.
Sam didn't dance well, which was unfortunate for his former wife Merry O'Connell (who did) and sometimes embarrassed his kids, but didn't bother Pat. He did, however, have a nice voice and liked to sing along with the stereo in his car turned all the way up. He was partial to Simon & Garfunkel, Cat Stevens and the Dixie Chicks. He also liked folk music and as a young father would lie on the floor between his children's beds and sing sea chanteys to lull them to sleep. An anthropologist, he was attracted to folk anything, really. The ways in which people interacted with their environment and made things with their own hands interested him.
Sam had a never-ending love affair with the natural world that he shared with the children in his life. He took countless walks on beaches and in canyons with his grandchildren, Sarah Schall, Philip Goetze, Nerissa Sandt, Dane Sandt, Samantha Sandt, Sydney Hashimoto, Jaydon Hashimoto, Landon Hashimoto, his great-grandchildren and his nieces and nephews, pointing out plant life, animal signs and teaching all along the way. When the kids got tired, he would give them a ride on his shoulders.
Sam learned to read late, but he earned two master's degrees, taught community college for almost three decades, was the director of L.A. Harbor College's Program for Accelerated College Education for eleven years, and director of Management Information Systems at L.A. Harbor College for four years. When Sam's students, the kids he coached or his offspring heard a voice telling them to try a little harder because they were capable of much more, it was likely to be Sam's voice. He spoke from experience. Mostly Sam wanted to have fun and tried to make sure those around him were having fun. Sam succeeded.
A celebration of his life will be held at Green Hills Memorial Chapel, 27501 South Western Avenue Rancho Palos Verdes, on Tuesday, August 13, 2013 from 3-4 p.m., and a paddle out will be held in front of TORR tower, Torrance Beach, Wednesday August 14, 2013 at 10 a.m.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that a donation be made to the Surfrider Foundation or the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.