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 email@example.com