Samuel Noel Postlethwait
1918 - 2019
{ "" }
Share
Share Samuel's life story with friends and family
Send an Email
Or Copy this URL to Share
Samuel Noel Postlethwait

West Lafayette - Samuel Noel Postlethwait, 100, passed away early in the morning on January 15. Sam was born April 16, 1918 in Willeyville, WV. His parents were Mary Etta Mason Postlethwait and Albert Franklin Postlethwait. Sam was married to Sara Madeline Cover on March 22, 1941. Sara passed on June 2, 2010.

Sam grew up on a 180 acre farm near New Martinsville, WV. He met Sara at Fairmont State Teachers College in 1937 and they married 4 years later. Their interdependence and love for each other was indeed special for all of the 69 years of marriage.

He joined the Navy in '42 and served for over 3 years during WWII. After his service in the military Sam used the GI bill to earn a masters degree at West Virginia University and later a PhD at the University of Iowa. In 1949 he came to Purdue and had a "perfect fit" in the School of Agriculture. One of his proudest professional achievements while at Purdue was the development of a teaching system focused on the learner. He called this model the Audio-tutorial system. He attributes much of the design of this system to his excellent students who "owned" its development. Sam retired from Purdue in 1984. It should be noted that Sam continued to teach informally all those that were fortunate enough to know him and have time with him.

Sam and Sara moved to University Place (UP) in West Lafayette in 2004. Together they enjoyed, and fully valued, their neighbors at UP and the wonderful loving culture of this remarkable living facility. During this time at UP Sam was often in the Celery Bog which is adjacent. He has over 30000 pictures of the park taken over the years while walking with his Tuesday morning "walkers" and close friends. This was a very important aspect of the last several years.

Sam and Sara were members of the Elmwood Avenue Church of Christ from their arrival in Lafayette almost 70 years ago. The church was the center of their lives. Their love and appreciation of the church and the members of the church was boundless; the source of so much richness in their lives and provided "a sense of values that gave us so much comfort in all circumstances".

Sam valued highly Kiwanis Lafayette and West Lafayette and its members. The mission "We build: Changing the World, One Child and One Community at a Time" was near to Sam's heart. Time at the Kiwanis lunches was time well spent in his view; special occasions to be with good people doing good things.

Sam is survived by sons John (Nita) and Bob (Kathi), four granddaughters and eleven great grandchildren.

A Memorial service will be held at Elmwood Avenue Church of Christ at a date to be determined.

You may sign the guest book and leave memories at www.soller-baker.com






To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in Journal & Courier on Jan. 16, 2019.
MEMORIAL EVENTS
No memorial events are currently scheduled. To offer your sympathy during this difficult time, you can now have memorial trees planted in a National Forest in memory of your loved one.
Memories & Condolences
Guest Book sponsored by Soller-Baker Funeral Homes, Inc - West Lafayette
Not sure what to say?
View Printed Guest Book
53 entries
October 29, 2020
Where to start..I owe you ( and Dr. Daniels) my deepest gratitude for giving me my academic start at the University. Not only that, but you may have saved my life although neither of us knew it at the time. I truly enjoyed the magnificent and elegant slide shows at Lilly Hall that you presented from time to time. You'll be in my thoughts forever.
Terry O'Heron; USMC MSgt ret, PhD, PE
Student
February 16, 2020
As a post-doc teaching intern with Sam 1976-77, I learned a great deal about teaching from him. His audio-tutorial system was such a departure from the lectures I always got that it made a great impact on my teaching. My career was different because of his sharing and enthusiasm that year.
Sam was truly an unique person. I always appreciated what I learned from him.
Douglas Ruby "Dapper Doug"
February 20, 2019
Blessed by Sams faith, friendship & wisdom
Sam & Saras lives were the epitome of lives that were lead by God, loving Him in such a way to lead others to have faith to follow Him as well. They taught me these things. God bless them & all those who had the pleasure & privilege to know them.
Terri Darr
Friend
January 22, 2019
I'm so glad I got to meet Sam for the first time last summer. My father was a post-doctoral student for Sam in the mid 70s and spoke often of his kindness. He provided my father odd jobs so he could make a little extra money to support his young family during his time at Purdue. On a recent visit to West Lafayette, we were able to locate him so my father could say thank you and introduce the rest of his family. Thoughts and prayers from the Brown family.
Silas Brown
Friend
January 21, 2019
One icy morning a few years ago, I saw a van pull up to the front of the shop. As I looked out, I saw Sam waving so I stepped out to chat. He handed me a list of family and friends who he wanted to send flowers to. He did this often and we enjoyed each opportunity to visit with him. He will be missed. His impact and love for the Purdue and West Lafayette community is a great legacy.
Tyler C
Friend
January 20, 2019
Sam never treated one person better than another. He would brighten a room by his mere presence. I was privileged to have taken care of him at University Place he would always ask me if I was staying out of trouble. I would usually reply I was trying but it wasn't looking good. He would tell me well that another reason I need to go to church to pray for you. We would both laugh and thank him. My day was always better with a hug and kiss from Sam. Enjoy heaven Sam God has prepared a place for you.
Ginny Zink
January 19, 2019
When I think of Sam and Sara, I remember what an impact they had on the Elmwood College Class while I was a student at Purdue. My faith in God grew by leaps and bounds under their direction. I have been blessed to send my daughters to Elmwood to experience the Christ-like love from these two amazing Christians. I know they are in the presence of Jesus - a well deserved position in Heaven.
Marilyn Hart
Friend
January 18, 2019
Lunch at UP with Sam. From left Dave Leva, Sally Leva, Tom Turpin, Sam, Christine Turpin, Richard Schoenbohm and Sue
I will forever hold a special place in my heart for Sam. As a new graduate student at Purdue who needed support, Sam took a chance on me and thus, I was one of his many TAs in Botany class. I see others have mentioned his great talent for remembering every student's name in every class he taught- something that is amazing to see and experience. And everyone called him Sam (students as well) as I recall. He didn't need a title, everyone respected and liked him instantly. I was lucky enough to have lunch with him as arranged by Christine Turpin when my husband and I visited Purdue last fall. Here is a picture of all of us having a lovely lunch with Sam and friends at UP last September. Rest in peace, Sam, you were one of a kind.
Sally Leva
Coworker
January 18, 2019
One of the all time best teachers and human beings. I met him in Botany and Plant Pathology in a 600 student lecture in 1961. He took one lab section of 20-25 kids each and had us introduce ourselves. From then on he knew our names. I had never met anyone with a photographic memory and it was unnerving to students to be called out in lecture by name for sleeping or otherwise not paying attention. It happened once in each class and never again. I did some work at University place about 5 years ago and was thrilled to make his acquaintance again. A wonderful person and a lover of all life. I am better for having known him. God rest his soul.
Phil Ramsey
January 17, 2019
I have no words that can describe the joy and life lessons that I learned from this wonderful man. His patience with all things and the wonderful stories he would tell were simple not to be missed. He had such loving and warm hugs, and always made me feel so special. There is truly no other person on this earth like Sam. As I will miss him, I know he is with his beloved and in the presence of his Lord. Rest in Peace my friend, Rest in peace!

With all my love,
Ronda Polk
Friend
January 17, 2019
We met Sam and Sara about 12 years ago. They visited my garden and cottage on several occasions. I learned from him the importance of detail when taking pictures in nature. I have several of his photos in my home as well as a painting Sara did of my garden cottage. What a wonderful, talented and sweet man. We have all lost a treasure.
Denise and James Smith
January 17, 2019
Sorry for the loss in the family! Oh, Mr. Sam Postlethwait I know that you earned your wings along time ago. Thank you for all that you've taught me growing up within the Elmwood Church of Christ.
Pamela (Pam Seng) Neal
January 17, 2019
John, Bob and family,

I have no early memories that do not include your dad. The highlight of any trip back to Lafayette was to visit your dad. Those moments were precious and we always left feeling loved and somehow hoping we could be more like him. Sam was a man of deep conviction whether in matters of faith or academia, but kindness preceded him always. He was a follower of Jesus Christ, not a moralizer, but one who lived his faith. He was a "noticer" of all. Perhaps that is why his photography was part of his DNA. And he was so humble. He had degrees and awards but he was "Sam" to all. If he was bestowed an honor, he was incredulous. Love spilled out of him. Ironically, he passed away on the 9th anniversary of his friend and my dear dad's death. I am humbled and thankful for your dad's presence in my life.
Linda Darby Dunham
January 17, 2019
My lasting impression came in 1958-59 when I was in his Plant Science 140 class (I hope I remember that correctly) because he taught so well and I learned so much; knowledge that stayed with me all these years. At the end of the semester all of us in the lecture hall walked past a camera, standing still long enough to have our picture taken. I was surprised that a professor would do that and never forgot. Many years later I met a gentleman who Dr. Postlethwait had been kind to during his freshman year at Purdue when he had lost his own father. It moved him to name one of his sons Sam. Learning that further enhanced my regard for a wonderfully caring educator. It was my privilege to have been in his class
David H Schroeder
Student
January 16, 2019
I was lucky enough to have Sam as a professor when I was at Purdue many years ago. He was an amazing teacher and mentor, and I learned much from him as a student and later as a TA. We exchanged letters this past summer, and as always he was gracious and kind and full of good humor. My condolences to his family. May you have peace in the knowledge that he was a great man who lived a great life! Sincerely, Patti Carlson
Patti Clark Carlson
Student
January 16, 2019
Bob, I send you my sympathy. I have heard so many wonderful things over the years about your father. He will be remembered for many more years for all he did here in WL/Purdue. God be with you and your family to help carry your sorrow. Nancy Linville Hickman
Nancy Hickman
January 16, 2019
Sam was the first resident I met at U.P. His hugs and smiles were the best. It was a honor to be Sams server at dinner. Sam, every time I eat a bowl of Butter Pecan ice cream, I'll think of you. RIP sweet man.
Lori Hostetler
Friend
January 16, 2019
Sam was a kindly gentleman who welcomed us when my family and I worshipped with Elmwood COC during our brief stay in the US 10 years ago. He was v sweet towards our children. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family.
Linnet Chia
Acquaintance
January 16, 2019
I knew Sam at MCL on T
Thursdays















I knew Sam at MCL on Thursdays when he came for Kiwani we were friends. He was such a nice man. I will remember his friendliness, kindness, and his liking to tell small jokes that were just fun.
Marilyn Pendleton
January 16, 2019
Dr. Sam represents the best of humanity and Purdue University. I was one of four hundred students he had in a lecture class. He had his assistants take a picture of every student in lab sessions. I never met him during that class, but two years later I passed him on campus and he greeted me with my first name. What a brilliant mind and a such a caring professor. He made a difference in my life.
I'm now 75 years old and have never forgotten Dr. Postlethwait!
Mike Williams
January 16, 2019
One of my favorite memories of Sam was after the death of my own father in a car accident in 1995, he made sure that I was never without a father's love! May the love of friends and family carry you through your grief.
Elaine Crowder
Friend
January 16, 2019
What a great man. Sam was on our very first Greater Lafayette Honor Flight on his birthday in 2012. I spoke at the Kiwanis club a month later and Sam called me to his table and said, "Pam I don't know how many more days I have on this earth, but you made this old man very happy." That is what our program is all about and we were honored to have him on that first flight. I saw him again this past Veterans Day when I spoke at the program at University Place. He was always smiling and such a great person to talk with. I'm a better person by knowing this wonderful man. RIP.
Pam Mow
Friend
January 16, 2019
I remember Dr Postlewaite from the years I was a work study student in the biology department in the early 70s. I ran into him over the decades several times in the community in various places. My most recent sightings were of him walking along the bridge on Lindberg road with his camera hanging from his neck. One could never know a more avid naturalist and he was a true gentleman.
Maureen Meehan
Acquaintance
January 16, 2019
I was a student of his at Purdue. He also was the Faculty Advisor for our Fraternity (Delta Sigma Phi). Our sympathies to his family and friends.
Howard Hickle
Student
January 16, 2019
Thought and prayers to Sam's family. A wonderful educator and person who touched the lives of thousands of students at Purdue.
Tony Gonczarow
Student
January 16, 2019
Condolences to Sam's family and all those whose lives were touched by this beautiful human being.
January 16, 2019
Sam was always one of the greatest blessings in my life. As good friend and coworker, he made life as teacher a great joy. I especially loved working together with him exploring new ideas, beautiful images in nature and ways of focusing on loving and appreciating students.
Joe Rubinstein
Friend
January 16, 2019
What can be said about Sam that hasn't already been said ? !! We all loved him for what he has given this community and just for being himself. He was a wealth of knowledge and brought the love of nature into our lives through his lectures, books, photography and tours. God granted him a full and devoted life and I am happy for him that he now rests in the ever flowering garden of life with his Lord and Savior We'll miss you, Sam
Joan Messing
Acquaintance
January 16, 2019
I will truly miss you Sam. You were a gentle, loving man...a real jewel. I will see you in heaven my friend. Nina
Nina Barron-Burke
January 16, 2019
Dr. Sam was one of my favorite professors at Purdue. Years after I graduated, I'll never forget the day I saw him visiting Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, my place of employment since graduating in 1973.
Mary Collins
Student
January 16, 2019
Condolences to Sam's family. I had the honor of being an undergraduate TA for him as well as a student. He was an amazing professor and mentor. He was one of my favorite professors at Purdue. RIP Sam.
Kathy Hall
January 16, 2019
I grew up in the Elmwood church as a kid and later went to church there as a Purdue student, so I knew Sam as a small child until I was a young adult. He was one of the kindest people I have ever met. I remember the proud look on his face when I told him later in life that I had become a university professor. People like Sam were who inspired to be a professor. His love of nature was contagious. I remember the well-kept property he and Sara tended on Soldiers Home Road with all of the labeled trees and plants. Most importantly, I remember how he loved God and how he showed that love every time I saw him. Well done, good and faithful servant.
Mark Wilkins
Friend
January 16, 2019
Bob, I know what a joy your father was to you and your family. He was an example of how to age well.
Bob Reiling
Friend
January 16, 2019
Alan Dale
January 16, 2019
Dr Postlethwait was my professor for Biology 101 back in 1977. He was an excellent teacher that really cared about his students. We moved back to the area in 1998 when I began my teaching career at Purdue and I got reacquainted with Sam because my in-laws lived at University Place. Sam was always upbeat and enthusiastic. I told him that he was one of my professors that really made an impact and he said that made his day! A wonderful man that will be greatly missed.
W Mark Hilton
Student
January 16, 2019
Thank you you for your presence in my life during my formative years.
Janet McCloud Moorman
Friend
January 16, 2019
Oh Sam you will be missed. I didnt get to see you on my last visit to UP. You brightened my day every day for almost 2 years when you came to get your coffee and give me a hug. I think you brightened everyones day. Fly high my dear friend.
Megan Copas
Friend
January 15, 2019
What a kind and cheerful man- always wanting to share his love of learning and love of nature. I first met Dr. P when my husband TAd in His and Bob Hursts autotutorial classes in the 70s. I never forgot his smile and always loved to see him at Purdue events. I got to share his and Saras love of wildflowers at a homemaker meeting - and since got to enjoy some of his nature walks at CB. And I attended Sams 100th birthday party at Lilly Nature center- I couldnt get over the fact that he remembered so many people! I feel so fortunate to have known Sam Postlethwait- a truly great man. Lindsey Minchella
Lindsey Minchella
Acquaintance
January 15, 2019
Dearest Sam,

I knew this day would come, but for selfish reasons I hoped you would be here forever. What a glorious man you were. You set an example of love, commitment, honor, faith, integrity and service. I so loved our friendship.

And now you belong to the ages, reunited with your precious Sara. You both are now safe in each others arms, and safe in the arms of God for eternity.

I love you, dear Sam. To God be the glory forever and ever. Amen.......

Chris Turpin
Chris Turpin
Friend
January 15, 2019
Rest in eternal Paradise, Dear Sam.
Thank you for allowing us to see nature through your camera lense all these years.
You were truly a gentleman.
I know you will get lots of hugs from the Angels.
--- Bea Longoria
Bea Longoria
Friend
January 15, 2019
I was telling the family that I was not able to visit you this past Summer last night. I did not know it was your last night here. It is good morning up there! Thank you for sharing your time with me, Sam.
Ernest Nyannor
Friend
January 15, 2019
What a pleasure and blessing it was to get to know such a wonderful man, his words of wisdom will stay with me forever, he was amazing to listen to and learn from. He will be truly missed.
Heidi Mosher
Friend
January 15, 2019
A True Gift to Our World
This wonderful man has certainly left the world a better place than before he came. His spirit shall live on in all of nature and, no doubt, in the hearts of many. Thank you, Sam, for all you taught me with "points", laughter, hugs, and love.
Marianne Eagan
Friend
January 15, 2019
Sam was a very unique person. I used to be a server for him. Whenever I seen him, he would have his arms wide open and a great big smile on his face. He would always call me his great Granddaughter. He would always make me smile when i was feeling down. He would be happy. Always greeted others with a smile. He was a joyful and bubbly person I have ever met.
Théya Wells
Friend
January 15, 2019
John, Bob and family: Our hearts ache for the passing of your father. I want you to know how special he was to us - first he was my adopted dad (with Sara of course, mom) throughout my undergrad at PU. Dinners spent laughing and eating hearing all his funny stories. Later in my life as I pursued a PhD at PU, Sara and Sam adopted my wife too, then our kids became their new grandkids. Walks with Sam at the Bog were some of my girls' favorite memories. This all said to show the consummate generosity, humbleness, love, and modeled Christian lives for those of us lucky to know them. Thank you for sharing them with us. We will miss both of them terribly but look forward to seeing them once again one day in Heaven.
Thomas Spriggs
Friend
January 15, 2019
I have met some wonderful Godly men in my life, but Sam Postlethwait set the bar to judge all men against. A wonderful example of a man, husband, father, Professor and Christian. He and Sara adopted me as a Freshman at Purdue and I had the honor of being one of the Postlethwait Child my entire time there. Truly a blessing to me.
Lisa Bowers
Student
January 15, 2019
My husband Steve Randak always thought so much of Sam. Sorry for his family's loss.
Linda Randak
Acquaintance
January 15, 2019
We met him over 45 years ago when we came to Lafayette as a young couple. He was always gracious, kind and loving. He was always supportive of us and our children and was the face of Jesus to us in many ways. His relationship with Sara was an example of love and faithfulness to everyone who was fortunate enough to know them.
Jane Mitchell
Friend
January 15, 2019
It was my privilege to know Sam. He will be missed by many. God be with his family and give them peace Shirley
Shirley Farmer
Friend
January 15, 2019
Sam will be missed by many. We all at Elmwood loved Sam God be with his family and give them peace. Shirley Farmer
Shirley Fatmer
Friend
January 15, 2019
We will all at Elmwood will miss Sam very much. He was such a wonderful man. God bless
Shirley Farmer
Friend
January 15, 2019
We all will miss you so much Sam. I have been privileged to know you. God bless your family. Shirley Farmer
Shirley Farmer
Friend
January 15, 2019
Sam, was indeed a very wonderful person who was kind to everyone he met. He never saw a stranger and he loved the Lord with all of his heart, mind, and soul. I am proud to say that I was his friend.
Beth Holt
Friend
Invite others to add memories
Share to let others add their own memories and condolences