Sam Childress was part of the heart of Granby community
April 2, 2009
To his family Sam Houston Childress was a loving husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. To the Granby community he was a friend and businessman who always had a smile for his customers.
The Texas-born young man questioned what he had gotten himself into when he arrived in Granby by bus on a snowy day in 1946, his 20th birthday, Nov. 25. Later, wife Betty said, you could barely tear him away from the area he proudly called home.
He was the middle child of Molly and Millard Childress of Aspermont, Texas, joining sister Hazel and brother Jim, as well as 14 other step- and half-brothers and sisters. Molly took care of the household while Millard worked as a blacksmith.
In support of his country, Sam attended his final semester during summer school so he could join the Navy. Betty said he loved serving his country and that many of the people he met during those two years “got to be real good friends.”
The company served as troop transport, bringing new soldiers to different stations and taking others home. Memorable moments included a trip to India, and Betty believes the troop also received a commendation for crossing the Line of Demarcation.
As he would be during many years to come, Sam was a storekeeper (for the transport), selling a bit of everything and keeping track of the immediate payments required. One time, Betty recalled from one of Sam’s stories, a captain sent a soldier in for shoes. The soldier said the captain would pay for later. The captain confirmed, to which Sam replied “Okeydokey.” Before he stepped one foot away, Betty said, Sam heard, “Sailor, you never say okeydokey to a captain!”
Upon discharge Sam decided to come to Granby to join sister Hazel and her husband Rusty Norris, who were running a dry-cleaning business. “Granby was a little more lively than Aspermont, I guess,” Betty chuckled. It was the first time he had seen snow and he would later joke that had he had the money, he would’ve gotten back on the bus.
But the area was bustling and Sam grew to appreciate what it had to offer. The Big Thompson Project was in full force, the Granby Dam was being built, and business was good. He worked for an electrician, at the Granby Post Office “when the Snyders had it way back when,” Betty said, and later joined on at the dry cleaners.
When a hotel fire (at the old Dorothy Shop) gathered the townspeople, friends pointed Betty (who worked for Mountain Bell) in the direction of the “new boy in town.” She loved his kindness and got a kick out of his Southern drawl. The two dated for four years and married at the old log church in Granby June 1, 1951. To celebrate, they had dinner at Payne’s Cafe, “known all over for his fried chicken,” and enjoyed a day in Denver.
Brother Jim (who married Betty’s sister Donna) joined Sam in Granby after he graduated high school and the two opened up a dry-cleaning business (the Norris business had closed its doors by then). Betty said Sam was always a hard worker, working six days at the shop and doing the bookkeeping on Sundays.
“He was such a people person,” daughter Marsha Isenhart said. “He genuinely enjoyed helping customers in the store ” not just because it was his job.”
They ran it for many years and when they sold it they bought the Gambles store, operating there for 30 years before leasing the business to Dick Forester. During that time Sam worked for Mountain Parks Electric and in real estate, before working at Gambles once again when Forester closed. He ran the store for another five years before selling the business to Casey Farrell.
The community man loved horses, gardening and also served about 60 years with the American Legion, on the East Grand School Board for eight (four as president), was a charter member of the Granby Kiwanis Club, and was on the Granby Town Board. “He loved Granby ” really all of Grand County,” Betty said.