Sanford Harvey (Sam) Webster Sanford Harvey (Sam) Webster, 95, died February 18, 2013 in Palo Alto. Beloved husband of Mary Sibley (Kim) Webster, his wife of seventy-one years, who survives him. Born in Kingston, Rhode Island, Sam was the son of Samuel Harvey Webster, an engineering professor at Rhode Island State College, and Edith Clifford Webster, a YWCA director. Sam graduated from West Point and served as an officer in Europe throughout the war, most notably at the Battle of Anzio.
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After the war, Sam conceived and ran the first drone program for use in military surveillance, believing they could save lives. He retired as a Colonel in 1961, then moved to Kim's hometown, Palo Alto, with their family, and became a realtor. Sam's businesses helped create several downtown Palo Alto landmarks, including the Garden Court Hotel and The Hamilton luxury retirement condominiums. He helped to change the face of downtown Palo Alto, developing business buildings in the historical vernacular when others were building high-rise modern offices. Eventually he established syndicated investments in pistachio and mandarin ranches as his primary enterprise.
A lifelong athlete, Sam was captain of an all-state high school basketball team and captain of the tennis team at West Point, after having been New England Boys and New England Juniors tennis champions. He played at Wimbledon in 1946, and remained ranked nationally in tennis into his 70s.
Sam is also survived by his son James Sibley Webster (Denise Hingle) of Berkeley; daughter Sarah Webster Goodwin of Saratoga Springs, New York; grandchildren Eva Goodwin, Hannah Goodwin, Stephan Goodwin, and Octavio Hingle-Webster; and several nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his beloved son Sanford Harvey Webster, Jr., who died in 1969.
Sam's numerous awards included Palo Alto's Tall Tree Award (1999) for outstanding citizen; an Avenidas Lifetime Achievement Award (2001) by the California legislature; a Congressional commendation by U.S. Congresswoman Anna Eshoo praising his "brilliant work" and calling him a "true American hero" (May, 2012); and a resolution from the state senate recognizing his achievements in a life of service, in particular his contributions to military reconnaissance, presented by Senator Joe Simitian (November, 2012).
Sam served on the governing boards of Avenidas, Lytton Gardens, and the Children's Health Council, among others. He was an advocate for the public schools and a dedicated member of Rotary International. Contributions may be made in his name to the Rotary Club of Palo Alto Endowment Fund, P.O. Box 592, Palo Alto, CA 94302. A memorial service will be held on February 24, 2013 at 5:00 PM in the United Methodist Church at 625 Hamilton Avenue in Palo Alto.
Published in San Francisco Chronicle on Feb. 23, 2013