Lee Chapin Sammis Lee Chapin Sammis passed away on Tuesday, February 12, 2013, at his home in Newport Beach, California, where he lived and built his business for the past 50 years. He was born on February 15, 1931, in Los Angeles. His family lived all over the country during the depression until settling in Pasadena, California, where he graduated in 1949 from South Pasadena High School. Ambition and tenacity being innate, he was a teamster in San Pedro at age 14 for 65 an hour, had his driver's license at the same age, trained with legendary boxer Canto Robleto to win a Golden Gloves title as a teen, and played football with distinction at South Pasadena High. After attending college at UCLA and UC Berkeley, he enlisted in the United States Army, being discharged in 1957 after serving as a 1st Lieutenant stationed at Fort Ord. He married his beloved wife, Joan Howard, in 1955, and they settled in their hometown in 1957. He worked in Los Angeles for RA Rowan and in 1962, the family then moved to Newport Beach, where he was a founding member of the Orange County office of Coldwell Banker. During his eight years with Coldwell Banker, he was one of the top producers in the nation. In 1968, Lee Sammis moved on to become one of the founding partners of the Koll Company, designing and developing millions of square feet of industrial and office space in California and surrounding states. In 1974, The Lee Sammis Company was formed to continue his visionary real estate concepts, receiving countless awards for architecture and quality. He expanded into many emerging markets, including the Sacramento area, New Jersey, Northern Virginia, Arizona and Florida. He attained legendary status in the real estate industry and was ranked the nation's 14th largest industrial developer in 1988. Lee Sammis Associates was formed in 1989 in the state of Virginia where his high-tech office parks flourished along the Dulles corridor. Office locations included Culpeper, where he ventured to help the efforts of a fledgling Culpeper Renaissance by being one of the first to open an office on newly redeveloped East Davis Street. He was a trustee and honorary lifelong member of the Urban Land Institute, NAIOP and IOPC. He always said that he would never retire, and remained to the end a participant in the process. Beyond his real estate career was his family and his hobbies. Lee Sammis was a lifelong animal lover and was famous for bringing home strays or stopping on the freeway with a car full of people to rescue a wandering dog. He enjoyed hosting CulpeperFest at his Elkwood Downs farm near Brandy Station, ushering in a new era of the event for the community. He was predeceased by his wife and devoted partner in life, Joan Howard Sammis. He is survived by his brother and wife, Don, and Fernanda Sammis of Hailey, Idaho; his daughters, Diana Buckingham Sammis Brookes, Virginia Lee Sammis, Caroline Howard Sammis and Anne Elizabeth Sammis; son-in-law, Robert Jordan Brookes Jr.; eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild. A private family service will be held at a future date. The family requests that any memorial donations be made to the Humane Society of Culpeper, P.O. Box 1224, Culpeper, Virginia 22701.
This obituary was originally published in the Culpeper StarExponent.