Honoring a hero

In the mid-1960s, Mike Lutz and Dav­id Sampson were part­ners in the 3rd Po­lice Dis­trict.

An­nette Lutz told her hus­band that she had a good match for his part­ner — her friend Mar­ie, her former next-door neigh­bor on Wey­mouth Street in Kens­ing­ton.

The couples went on a double date at what Mar­ie re­calls as a “fancy bowl­ing al­ley” in Wil­low Grove, where they danced.

Dav­id and Mar­ie later mar­ried and had two chil­dren, and they moved in­to the same Nor­mandy neigh­bor­hood as the Lutzes, who are the god­par­ents of the Sampsons’ old­est child.

On the night of Dec. 12, 1973, Dav­id and Mar­ie went out for din­ner. On their way home, they saw a car ac­ci­dent on Wood­haven Road, east of Academy Road. A tract­or-trail­er hit a fence after a drunk­en hitch­hiker tried to take the steer­ing wheel.

The off-duty of­ficer was ren­der­ing as­sist­ance, along with uni­formed po­lice of­ficers who had ar­rived on the scene, when he was hit by a car. The 33-year-old, eight-year de­part­ment vet­er­an could not sur­vive his in­jur­ies.

On Sept. 7, 38 years after his death, a plaque was ded­ic­ated in Sampson’s memory. Be­cause of bad weath­er, the ce­re­mony took place at the Fraternal Or­der of Po­lice Lodge 5 headquar­ters. His badge (num­ber 4896) was po­si­tioned on­stage.

The plaque will be per­man­ently in­stalled out­side 11976 Academy Road, and Capt. De­borah Kelly, com­mand­er of the 8th Po­lice Dis­trict, has prom­ised per­petu­al care.

“It’s so won­der­ful that he’s not for­got­ten,” said Mar­ie Sampson Carpino, who later mar­ried an­oth­er po­lice of­ficer. “It’s far more grat­i­fy­ing than any words can say.”

The plaque pro­gram is co­ordin­ated by at­tor­ney James J. Binns and Lodge 5. The Sampson plaque was sponsored by the Law­less fam­ily, which in­cludes cur­rent and former po­lice of­ficers. It’s the ninth plaque of the year to hon­or a Phil­adelphia of­ficer and the 101st since the pro­gram de­b­uted a dec­ade ago.

Binns also is part of the ef­fort that has honored 95 Phil­adelphia fire­fight­ers with plaques.

In all, 239 plaques have been ded­ic­ated, in­clud­ing ones for of­ficers in the sub­urbs and South Jer­sey.

Sampson’s moth­er was ill and later died when he was young. His fath­er couldn’t care for him and his two sis­ters, so the chil­dren were raised at the Pres­by­teri­an Chil­dren’s Vil­lage, which at the time was at 58th Street and King­sess­ing Av­en­ue in South­w­est Phil­adelphia.

Dav­id and Mar­ie had two daugh­ters, Debbie Sampson Canale and Nancy Mar­ie Sampson Lind­bergh. They have three chil­dren apiece. The late of­ficer is also sur­vived by his two sis­ters, Liz Wolfe and Lor­raine Leeds.

Dur­ing the ce­re­mony, Po­lice Com­mis­sion­er Charles Ram­sey and FOP Lodge 5 pres­id­ent John McNesby presen­ted the City of Phil­adelphia flag to his wid­ow. Dis­trict At­tor­ney Seth Wil­li­ams also at­ten­ded the event.

Sampson, his wife said, was a “won­der­ful hus­band and fath­er” and de­scribed her time with him as “the most won­der­ful years of my life.”

“There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of him,” she said.

Mike Lutz, a former city and state FOP pres­id­ent, said he wasn’t sur­prised that his former part­ner — who was a Mar­ine be­fore be­com­ing a po­lice of­ficer — got in­volved with the ac­ci­dent on the night of his death.

“He was a very, very pro­act­ive cop,” he said. “He didn’t miss a trick. He did the job twenty-four hours a day.”

Sampson’s chil­dren were 7 and 4 when he died.

Debbie, the older child, re­calls be­ing part of a “Leave It to Beaver” fam­ily. Her dad en­joyed pic­nics, camp­ing, go­ing to Her­shey Park and swim­ming in the Brandy­wine Creek. He even let his girls put curl­ers in his hair.

“He was a great dad,” she said.

Nancy, the young­er child, doesn’t have too many memor­ies of her fath­er, but learned later that he and her moth­er were an es­pe­cially lov­ing couple.

“The two of them took the trash out to­geth­er,” she joked. ••

Any­one in­ter­ested in spon­sor­ing a hero plaque can call James Binns at 215-275-3000.

Re­port­er Tom War­ing can be reached at 215-354-3034 or twar­ing@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at twaring@bsmphilly.com.

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