Sammy "Sam" Edwards '57 November 16, 2022 4:25 PM updated: November 16, 2022 4:29 PM
Sammy Bryan Edwards
August 24, 1935 - August 8, 2022
Sammy (“Sam”) Bryan Edwards, 86 years old, passed away peacefully on August 8, 2022 in Fredericksburg, Texas. Sam was born in Luling on August 24th,1935 and was a lifelong Texan. He is survived by his wife of 64 years, Jean, their daughter Cheri White, grandchildren Renai Cafferty, Gordie White III, Matt White, spouses Haley White and Ryan Cafferty, and great-grandchildren Zane and Jett Cafferty.
Graduating from Texas A&M in 1957 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering, Sam was an enthusiastic Aggie with a fiery spirit. He always made sure the Longhorns in the family knew it, too!
Sam loved flying. He began in airplanes and received his private pilot certificate in 1966. Sam started his journey with hot air balloons when his younger daughter Denise, 11 at the time, asked him to take her to watch a balloon event in Houston. By the next week, Sam had helped start one of the first ballooning clubs in Texas, the Tejas Aeronauts, and went on to serve as its President for many years. Sam’s first lesson in a balloon was in January of 1975, and he had his first solo with Bill Murtorff on May 31 of that year. A commercial pilot with 2353.5 pilot hours, he operated his small ride company with Jean, who doubled as his crew chief. Sam trained both his daughters, Cheri and Denise, as well as his granddaughter Renai, to become accomplished pilots. Additionally, he served on the BFA Board in the late 1970’s as Vice President.
Among his ballooning accomplishments, Sam was a competitor in 26 National Championships, first participating in Indianola, Iowa, as well as a competitor in three World Championships and three North American Championships. In 2015, he received the Ed Yost Master Pilot Award for 40 years of safe flying.
Sam was a great competitor and pilot, but his family was even more important to him. Sam was a caring husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. He met Jean on a trip to Dallas, Texas in 1955 with his Aggie buddies to attend the football game against SMU. Not only did A&M win 13 to 2, but Sam also met his future wife that weekend. A fated hello in the street while Sam pet a dog and Jean brought in the trash can led to a letter addressed to Miss - - -. Of course, Jean answered so Sam could “win a bet against his buddies on how friendly Dallas girls are.” More letter exchanges, dates, and Senior dances led to 64 years of marriage, two daughters, and more adventures than most of us ever dream about taking. Sam and Jean were, and always will be, snowed about each other.
Part of Sam’s affection for ballooning was that he was able to enjoy it with his family. He spoke often of competing in the World Championships in 1977; not because of the flights, but because it gave him the chance to take his wife and two teenage daughters to York, England. Sam loved that his daughters followed him into the sport. When asked what ballooning accomplishment he was most proud of, Sam would list his older daughter Cheri’s championships. He worked through his distaste for technology to carefully follow the online tracking of Cheri’s gas balloon flights. Even after his stroke, Sam was offering to do jobs for the corporate balloon program that Cheri manages. Cheri loved flying balloon events with her dad. He was always there to make sure she was down safe and packed up, and he loved to help find lost markers.
Sam was a kid at heart and truly enjoyed being a grandfather. Affectionately known as G-daddy, he woke up at 5am with Matt to eat cold mac & cheese and cereal while watching cartoons, he played pranks like turning Renai’s UT Longhorn car magnet upside down and loved animals so much that he kept treats in the glovebox for the cat at the propane station. He enjoyed passing out balloon cards at restaurants to every child in sight. All the silly things aside, G-daddy looked out for his grandkids. When Gordie was learning to drive in a balloon van on a congested road and nervous to change lanes, Sam would make a gap with his big red balloon truck. Other times, he would hit the quiet streets of Lakeway while everyone was asleep to fill Renai’s car with gas, leaving behind only the tell-tale smell of french fries as he must have also stopped at Whataburger while he was out. As he did for most everyone he met, G-daddy kept his grandkids laughing. Zane and Jett, Sam’s great-grandsons, are following in his well-worn footsteps by loving balloon trips and insisting on wearing balloon shirts every day.
We will miss Sam, but his spirit lives on forever in ballooning and in our hearts. Soft landings, G-daddy.
A private service will be held for family members, followed by a Celebration of Life for family and friends that will be announced at a later date.
Sam loved ballooning, and the family asks that in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions be made to the Balloon Federation of America for their youth camps.
BFA Youth Donations https://www.bfa.net/donate-to-youth or to the charity of your choice.
Arrangements are by the Schaetter Funeral Home
Expressions of sympathy may be sent at www.schaetter.com