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Police officer created programs for community’s youth

Affable nature made Harold Sammis many friends


Harold (Sam) Sammis, a 1941 graduate of Hewlett High School, then Woodmere High School, died on March 13. He was 91.

Sammis lived in Inwood prior to World War II and then moved to the Gibson area of Valley Stream. After high school, he received a scholarship to attend LaSalle Military Academy in Oakdale, which closed in 2001. The campus is now owned by St. John’s University.

After graduation, Sammis played one season each for the Sunbury and Wellsville baseball teams, which were both New York Yankees farm teams.

Sammis joined the Navy during World War II and was stationed in North Africa where he boxed for the Navy and won the Allied Heavyweight Championship in 1944. He returned to the United States after the war in Europe and was stationed in New Jersey until the end of the Pacific War. He met his wife Virginia while in the Navy and the couple was married in 1948.

“He liked to do anything physical,” said Sammis’ son, Harold III. “He played golf, tennis and he and my mother enjoyed ballroom dancing.”

In 1948, Sammis joined the Nassau County Police Department and became a police officer in the 4th Precinct in Hewlett. The following year he was appointed as the first patrolman director of the newly formed Hewlett-Woodmere Unit of the Nassau County Police Boy’s Club, now known as the Police Activity League (P.A.L.). While serving as the director, Sammis established many athletic programs for the youth in the community. He also ran an open gym at Franklin Early Childhood Center every night where boys played dodge ball, basketball and other activities.

According to Harold III, his father had to raise funds for the Police Boy’s Club on his own and had the support of parents, PTA groups, businesses, community organizations and politicians.

Sammis retired in 1984 and split his time between upstate Lake George and Bradenton, Fla. “He was a very sociable person and had an engaging personality,” Harold III said. “He had many, many friends.”

Lifelong Hewlett resident Paul Jording met Sammis in the 1950s as his brothers were apart of the Police Boy’s Club. “A lot of people went there who couldn’t afford other programs,” he said. “Sam would go out of his way to keep kids out of trouble.”

Sammis is survived by his wife Virginia, children, Roxanne, Cherie, Cindy and Harold III, four grandchildren, as well as many nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his brother Royal and sister Gladys.

A memorial service will be held on June 29 in Lake George. Anyone wishing to attend this service may contact Harold III or The Hewlett-Woodmere PBC site on Facebook for details.