In Memory of Sam Jolly

Sam Jolly – 1969-2022

Our chapter was sad to learn that one of our long-time friends and member of our most recent 2020 graduating class, Sam Jolly, passed away on April 13.

Sam attended our meetings for many years before joining a class. He was always there to help his friends and neighbors with lifting objects, driving at night, or getting up and down the stairs when we met at the old church basement.

While he had many challenges from brain tumors that affected his memory for the past few years, he was always cheerful about them and didn’t let them stop him from learning, participating in activities, and helping out in any way he could.

As recently as last year, he built bee houses for our chapter that we gave away last year at an event we held at the Wildscape. He was always busy creating, teaching others, or photographing the world around him. You can see some of his photos on iNaturalist, and it’s worth taking a look. Some are just amazing.

Long-time friend Cindy Travis said:

Pipevine swallowtail near the end of its life, but still beautiful. Photo by Sam Jolly.

He had a good heart and we feel blessed to have had him close to us and our friends for most of his last years.

Cindy Travis, friend and former landlord

After moving from Milam County to be near his family for his last few months, Sam passed away. He has left his body to science. He was always generous that way.

Learn more about Sam and his life and family in his obituary. Please share your own thoughts, photos, and memories of Sam with Sue Ann at ecrmnsecretaryATgmail (figure it out) or in the comments, and she will add them to this post.

Here are some great pictures of Sam, most of which were sent to us by his son (as was the photo at top). We are grateful for more memories of our friend to enjoy.

Remembering Alston Thoms

by Sue Ann Kendall

One of my early Master Naturalist memories was learning about the Native Americans in our area from Alston Thoms, a professor at Texas A&M and friend to many in our chapter, especially Mike and Joyce Conner. I always looked forward to his presentations, whether in person or virtually. We had him scheduled to speak at this month’s chapter meeting, but we hadn’t heard from him. We just learned he passed away in June. I wanted to share our condolences to all his family, friends, students, and colleagues. He was a treasure trove of knowledge about the people who lived in Texas in the past.

Here’s my favorite photo of Dr. Thoms, at our meeting location in Milano

I wrote a little about him and put a link to his memorial in my personal blog, and just wanted to share it here. If any of our chapter members would like to share more, please do.

And speaking of people who volunteer their time…yesterday, I also found out that one of our Master Naturalist mentors, an amazing human being named Alston Thoms had passed away in June, and we hadn’t heard about it… If you read his memorial page, you’ll see what a real treasure the world lost when his life ended. I learned so much about the Native Americans who lived in this part of Texas from him, and I always hungered to learn more. His teachings will live on through the work of his graduate students and the many Master Naturalists he generously taught through the years.

Here’s what I said about him in my blog from early in my Master Naturalist career:

We also had a very interesting speaker, Prof. Alston Thoms, an anthropologist from Texas A&M. He is an expert on Native American history, and focused the talk for us on what people ate in past centuries in this area. It was lots of roots and berries, cooked in earth ovens (which he does yearly for his grad students). The most “duh” moment came when he asked what the most common food source would have been. It took a while to realize that of course, it was the white-tailed deer. It’s been in the area as long as humans have, and always on the list for what’s for dinner!

I could listen to this guy all day long.

Proud of Me, May 14, 2018

So, please. If someone you care about is no longer with us, share your memories. They can mean a lot, even to people who didn’t know them, and the little things, their quirks, their stories, their adventures…they can mean more than you know to someone else.