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Donald James Sampson

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Donald James Sampson, Esquire, son of the late William Benjamin Sampson and Bessie Vermelle Moore Sampson, departed this life Saturday, May 26, 2001, following a lengthy illness.

Attorney Sampson was born inSampson, Esq.Sumter Aug. 4, 1919, and received his elementary and secondary education in Sumter as well. In 1941, he graduated from Hampton Institute in Hampton, Va., with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration.

He served in the U.S. Army from 1941-1945, attaining the rank of First Lieutenant in the 369th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Regiment stationed in the Pacific. After World War II, he attended Temple University School of Law, where he received a Bachelor of Laws Degree in 1950.

While at Hampton Institute he met LaBarbara Powell, and they were united in marriage Aug. 7, 1942, and to this union three children were born.

In 1951, Donald and LaBarbara moved to Greenville, where began a long, illustrious, and distinguished career in the practice of law, spanning approximately 50 years. He was the first African-American attorney in Greenville County.

As a civil rights leader and activist in South Carolina, he was an integral participant in the court cases that led to the ending of segregation in public schools, public libraries, public transportation, public accommodations and other facilities.

Always active in his community, he personified courage, dignity, integrity, and compassion for others. He always told it like it was.

His commitment to the church was evidenced by numerous leadership positions he held at St. Philip's Episcopal Church and Christ Episcopal Church.

Donald was active in many civic and service organizations. He was a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Greenville Urban League, the American Legion, the Greenville Bar Association, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, the South Carolina State Bar Association and the National Bar Association.

For his lifetime achievements and meritorious service, at a ceremony at Furman University on May 3, 2000, Attorney Sampson was awarded the Order of the Palmetto, the highest award given to a citizen of the state of South Carolina. He was also recognized that same day by the South Carolina Bar Association for his service to the community and the legal profession.

In his death we have lost a forceful leader and teacher, a wise counselor with a magnetic personality and a rare gift of humorous expression. His wisdom acquired through wide experience made him a dominant figure among his peers.

He is survived by his wife, LaBarbara; a daughter, LaBarbara Jr.; sons, Donald Jr. and Craig Powell; three sisters, his twin Dorothy Vermelle Sampson, Mrs. Bessie Joyce Sampson Scott (Benjamin) and Mrs. Irene Sampson Williams (Drefus). Four grandchildren survive: They are Brock Akheem Sampson, Jereme Brent Sampson, Brett Benjamin Sampson and Brandalynn LaPorchia Sampson. He will be greatly missed by a host of family and friends.

Memorial services will be held May 31, 2001, at 4 p.m. at Christ Episcopal Church.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to: The Donald J. Sampson Scholarship Fund, South Carolina Black Lawyers Association, Columbia.

The family is at their residence. - S.C. Franks Chapel of Remembrance, Greenville.

Published in The Greenville News on May 30, 2001
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