Memorial website in the memory of your loved one

This memorial website was created in the memory of our loved one, Seming "Sam" Pitcher who was born in Ketchikan, Alaska on February 11, 1987 and passed away on April 19, 2003 at the age of 16.
We will remember him forever. 


"That time runs out before one's life's work is completed by no means makes it worthless. The fragmentary quality of life does not detract from its meaning. It is not from the length of its span that we can ever draw conclusions as to life's meaningfulness. We cannot, after all, judge a biography by its length, by the number of pages in it; we must judge by the richness of its contents. The exuberant life of one who has died young certainly has more content and meaning than the existence of some long-lived dullard."

By Viktor Frankl "The Doctor and the Soul"

Sometimes the "unfinisheds" are among the most beautiful symphonies.

Dear family and friends, 

As you can imagine, this is hard to write. It’s even harder to imagine life without Sam. We miss him so very much. We do find comfort, however, in the many wonderful memories he’s given us. Over the years, we’ve shared with you how proud we were of Sam’s many talents and abilities. We are most proud of him, however, for being a truly nice and kind person, loved and respected by family and friends. We’re sure that Sam, with his quiet unassuming ways, had no idea how many lives he touched and influenced during his short life. At 6’5” and 220 pounds, he was truly a gentle giant. His friends remember him, as we do, as easy going with a great sense of humor. He could always bring a smile to their face and brought great joy to our lives. We are grateful for the time we had with Sam and the love we shared.

Sam died of Myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart. He hadn’t had any symptoms and seemed to be strong and healthy. Sam was in good spirits and enjoying a LAN computer networking party with friends when he collapsed. The doctors believe his heart had an irregular rhythm which caused it to stop. They were unable to get it started again because of the weakened condition it was in due to the inflammation.

Sam’s short life was a full and happy one. In the months before his death he had thoroughly enjoyed our cruise through the Panama Canal and Central America, learning a little Spanish along the way. He got his driver’s license the very day he turned sixteen in February and was busy putting miles on our cars. He had just gotten his first real job stocking freight at a local curio store and was looking forward to his first paycheck with visions of someday buying an Astro van that was large enough to haul lots of computer and music equipment. He had built his own computer and was very proud of it. It was state-of-the-art for gaming and downloading music, but lacking for word processing! He would easily pack his huge monitor and other equipment to his friends’ houses for LAN networking parties. Shortly before he died in April, he was looking forward to going to Southeast Music Festival in Sitka. Instead, the high school Wind Ensemble dedicated their concert to Sam and played through tears as his trumpet sat on an empty chair. His life is being memorialized and honored in so many ways, everything from a room being named “The Sam Pitcher Studio” at the local music store, to his old trumpet being mounted for the high school band room, to a painting being commissioned in his memory by his classmates. It’s heartwarming to know he meant so much to so many.

We are doing OK moving through one day at a time thanks to the wonderful support we’ve received from family and friends. We wish you peace and love always.

Karen, Dave & Sam, forever in our hearts 

Blissfully ignorant
I didn’t want to know
you told me with moistened cheeks
can’t we pretend life is how it was?
I comfort you
I want to be held
let’s put on a smile and pretend to be strong
I don’t want to think that anything’s happened
I hold it all inside
(it’s been so long since I’ve cried)
why do I have to be so god-damned strong?
let’s pretend life is how it was

So we pass each other
-in a hallway, somewhere
both struggling to smile
I tried to forget what happened
it didn’t work
nothing will be the same anymore
there’s always something missing
a void, and an empty chair

haunting memories return
creeping in and out of inanimate objects
reminding me …
… that life isn’t how it was

life will never be the same

by Gianna Willard 
Cedar bark basket by Diane Willard with ivory potato gun

"Overall Sam" by Dave Rubin
Sam Pitcher’s “family”, his “brothers and sisters” who were always there at his house, who knew him from class, or from passing in the halls of K-High, asked me to paint a picture that would have him there with them, in their shared, temporary yet always, home. They didn’t want a picture of him that would necessarily have to be taken from a photograph. Instead they suggested that it should remind people of Sam. So a group of us including his parents Karen and Dave, myself, and some of his closest “brothers and sisters” met one Sunday at his house, to assemble the still life (does that mean a piece of life that is still, or a place where there is still life?). I could tell how often they had been there by how familiar it was and how comfortable they seemed. It was nice for Karen and Dave to have them there again. Some hadn’t been there in a while and they were glad to be back. It was hard for a few. We went into his room where they had spent so much time, so much of their lives, and they started picking things out that had special stories that they told to me and to each other. Overall Sam is the name of the traditional quilt design that Sam’s grandmother used in the quilt she made him, the one that is spread out on his desk in his room where the still
life takes place. Overall, it is a picture of Sam

Dedication of the painting - 2/11/04

"Dave and I want to thank Dave Rubin for putting his heart into creating such a beautiful painting in memory of Sam. We also want to thank Sam’s classmates for commissioning the painting and for their fundraising efforts with a special thank you to Katheryn Brooks for leading those efforts. The painting is a wonderful tribute to Sam. Sam was fortunate to have such great friends. Dave and I are so impressed with what an outstanding group of young people you are. As we reflect on Sam’s life and death I am concerned that some of you may look at what happened to Sam and think that it may not matter what you do with your life because it too could end so abruptly. I know that this is not the outlook on life that Sam had. Sam enjoyed life. Sam’s life was cut short unexpectedly because of a medical condition that happens very rarely, but in the time that he had with us he lived a full and happy life. There were so many things that Sam was looking forward to doing. Although it makes us sad to think about all the things that Sam won’t get a chance to experience, and the times that we won’t get to share with him, I believe that it would make Sam happy to see his friends going on to do those things that he didn’t get the chance to do. I like to think that Sam is a guardian angel to all of you. I would hope that when we remember Sam, his life will be a reminder to all of us to always value the time we have here, to live our lives to the fullest, to do good works, and to live a life we can be proud of just as we are proud of Sam’s life. By doing so, you will truly honor Sam’s memory. I can’t emphasize enough what a great group of young people Dave and I think you all are. You all have such great potential. You will all make your own contributions in your own way throughout your lives just by being the good people that you are, perhaps by some day being good parents, always by being a good friend and sometimes just by making someone smile, something that many of you remember Sam for. Thank you all for being Sam’s friends." - Karen



Click here to see Seming "Sam" Pitcher's
Family Tree
Click here to pay tribute or offer your condolences
His legacy
The Sam Pitcher Memorial Fund  

Tax deductable contributions can be made to:
The Sam Pitcher Memorial Scholarship Fund

c/o Ketchikan Area Arts & Hummanities Council
330 Main Street
Ketchikan, AK 99901


Seming “Sam” Pitcher was a gifted young man who was active in the various music programs available in Ketchikan. Sam loved all kinds of music and played the trumpet, flugelhorn and electric guitar. His family and friends have set up a memorial scholarship fund in his name to award The Sam Pitcher Music Scholarship. The purpose of the fund is to provide money to deserving local youth to help them attend summer music camps or programs such as the ones Sam was able to attend. The Fund was started in 2003 with donations in excess of $10,000, with the goal of establishing a permanent scholarship fund. The Sam Pitcher Memorial Fund is a fiscally sponsored project of the Ketchikan Area Arts and Humanities council. Related link:



The first Sam Pitcher Memorial Concert, “A Night of Jazz & Blues,” was held on November 24, 2003. It was a wonderful evening of music with a great group of young people. Sam had played with all four of the jazz bands that performed. The enthusiasm of the musicians and the support of the community was a wonderful tribute to Sam. It was especially moving when Sam’s trumpet teacher, Dale Curtis, who is now the high school band director, joined the Kayhi Jazz Ensemble to solo on Sam’s trumpet playing “A Moment of Sorrow.” The concert raised money for the Sam Pitcher Memorial Scholarship Fund. Establishing an ongoing scholarship fund to honor Sam’s memory gives a positive focus to our lives now. 



2004 Scholarship winners, Amber & Courtney Kiffer

2005 Scholarship winners, Jeffery & Jamie Karlson

2006 Scholarship winners, Kim Stone & Lindy Parsons

2007 Scholarship winners, Kim Stone, Jolene Pflaum, Austin Hays, Matthew Perry & Lindy Parsons 

2008 Scholarship winners, Gunnar Keizer, Louise Bryant, Niles Corporon, Sy Hovik, April Souza, Trapper Bishop and Leslie Snodderly.

2009 Scholarship winners, Matthew Johnson, Micah Long, Louise Bryant, Alec Pankow, Victoria Clary and Kate Guillemette.

2010 Scholarship winners, Lisa Torres, Austin Kalkins,  Andrew Sullivan, and Sarah Gucker.

2011 Scholarship winners.Katie Powers, Thomas Varela, Jillianne Fazakerley, Abigail Sweetman, and Treva Widness

2012 Sam Pitcher Scholarship Recipients Sarah Gucker, Wyatt Anderson, Micah Long, Geralyn Lovell, Natalya Truitt, and Ada Castle

2013 Scholarship winners Kaileigh Krosse, Lora Starr, Jillianne Fazackerley and Hana Lee Oshima

2014 Scholarship recipients
Lily Vaughn, Kinani Halvorsen, Amber Junker and Hana Lee Oshima!/pages/Sam-Pitcher-Music-Scholarships-and-Memorial-Fund/148201728580980
Seming "Sam"'s Photo Album
9 lbs. 12 oz. 23 inches at birth!
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