Local TV favorite 'Trooper Terry' Sams dies

Friday, April 11, 2014 12:53 PM
Last updated Saturday, April 12, 2014 1:34 AM
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Terry Sams, 80, known to a generation of young Augusta television viewers as “Trooper Terry,” died Friday after a brief illness, but those who knew him said he has left a permanent mark on Augusta.

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Terry Sams, better known as Trooper Terry is enjoying retirement in North Augusta CRYSTAL GARCIA/STAFF            CRYSTAL GARCIA
CRYSTAL GARCIA
Terry Sams, better known as Trooper Terry is enjoying retirement in North Augusta CRYSTAL GARCIA/STAFF

“He is indeed someone who will never be forgotten and a television legend in Augusta,” said Mary Morrison, anchor of Good Morning Augusta and News Channel 6 at Noon.

Morrison is just one of many people who can attribute their start in the news industry to Sams. When she was hired in 1988 Sams was WJBF’s general manager.

Although he was best known for his role in the Trooper Terry Show, which ran from 1962 to 1982, he also wrote, produced, provided voice overs, did weather forecasts and worked as the station’s general manager, program manager, vice president and was part owner at one time.

In a 2007 interview with North Augusta Today, he estimated that 156,000 children participated in The Trooper Terry Show during its 20-year run.

Last Christmas Sams rode in the television station’s float.

“I have to say as our float moved through the streets of Augusta, it was his name that the crowd yelled,” Morrison said. “He was very, very beloved in the community for generations. Everyone knew who Trooper Terry was.”

Growing up in Tennessee, he said he had no intention of becoming a television personality. He actually wanted to be a musician.

But at 16, he took a radio job at WBEJ, then another one in Johnston City, Tenn., then Lexington, Ky., until he landed in Augusta in 1961.

Mary Jones, program director at WJBF, was hired by Sams “a long time ago.” As his assistant, she got to see him in action and help book the shows, which would fill for an entire year in a matter of hours.

“I think every family wanted their child to celebrate his or her birthday on the show, but we could only accommodate so many,” Jones said.

In December as part of the station’s 60th anniversary, Sams returned to the station for a Trooper Terry reunion, but it wasn’t his only return to his news roots.

Up until Sams got ill, he continued to visit the station and do public service announcements and voice overs that continue to air. With such a recognizable voice, those voice overs bring back a childhood of memories for people who raced home in the afternoons to hear Trooper Terry yell “Hey kids!” into their television sets.

“He was a true broadcaster,” said Jones, who admitted to learning a lot from Sams. “He could do it all.”

When Sams wasn’t working he played the trombone at First Baptist Church of North Augusta, rode motorcycles, went scuba diving and enjoyed gardening at his North Augusta home, collecting guns and just loafing around, he said in the 2007 interview.

“We were on the same page of life,” said Roy Kiser, who is minister of senior adults at First Baptist and considered Sams a close friend. “We liked the same kind of music and we kind of saw life the same way. We enjoyed poking fun at each other and just being together.”

Kiser directed the senior adult choir, which Sams sang in, and the men played together in the church orchestra.

Although Sams no longer wore a trooper hat and badge, Kiser got to see the long-lasting effect Trooper Terry had in Augusta each year when they visited nursing homes and assisted living communities at Christmas.

“There were always a whole group of people who knew Trooper Terry and were on his show,” Kiser said. “That made it great.”

Sams would then recite The Night Before Christmas from memory for the groups.

“He just has that special announcer voice that made it work,” he said.

Posey Funeral Home in North Augusta is handling arrangements. A memorial services will be 6 p.m. Thursday at First Baptist Church in North Augusta.

Sams leaves behind a wife, three daughters, one son and multiple grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

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YeCats
10530
Points
YeCats 04/11/14 - 01:15 pm
10
0
My favorite

TV childhood memory was Saturday mornings, and going to the North Pole to visit Santa. We'ed write our letters and watch to see if Santa would read them. Trooper Terry would always start the show in Augusta, and say, "laying your finger aside your nose, and off to the North Pole we'll go!"

God bless the Sams family and thanks for the wonderful entertainment!

Butterman
3680
Points
Butterman 04/11/14 - 01:17 pm
11
0
Legend
Unpublished

An Augusta legend

southern2
6035
Points
southern2 04/11/14 - 09:29 pm
11
0
I remember coming home from a

I remember coming home from a long day at school and turning on the TV to hear those famous words...."Hey kids, you better come running cause it's five o'clock and it's Trooper Terry Time." It will forever be etched in my minds of the Boomers that grew up in Augusta.

Thankful to have those memories.

Jake
32345
Points
Jake 04/11/14 - 01:37 pm
12
2
RIP Trooper Terry

The "Magic Viewing Screen" brought us much joy while growing up.
And who can forget the famous "Leroy cut a phart" incident.

t3bledsoe
14250
Points
t3bledsoe 04/11/14 - 02:13 pm
10
0
Terry Sams

I remember when his show was in black & white. My wife tells me that she was on the program and was very shy of him. Remember the old round TV screen on his desk. We all have to die but it still makes me sad that such a good person is gone, HOPEFULLY TO A BETTER PLACE!!!!

Red Headed Step Child
4027
Points
Red Headed Step Child 04/11/14 - 02:54 pm
12
1
OMG, Jake!

I can't think of Trooper Terry without immediately thinking of the "Leroy" incident. Still cracks me up to this day!!! I'm sure that episode was the talk for many a year.

GACopprhed
2136
Points
GACopprhed 04/11/14 - 02:57 pm
0
0
Rest in Peace Trooper Terry,
Unpublished

Rest in Peace Trooper Terry, I watched you daily as a child, especially at Christmas time. One of the best, in life and on TV.

GACopprhed
2136
Points
GACopprhed 04/11/14 - 03:12 pm
0
0
Rest in Peace Trooper Terry,
Unpublished

copy

grinder48
1888
Points
grinder48 04/11/14 - 02:58 pm
0
0
One of the Good Guys
Unpublished

I was part of the estimated 156,000 children. The Trooper was one of The Good Guys. That hat should have been white. I never knew him personally but always heard wonderful things about his personal life, that he was always working for the good of the community. Saw him several times on the firing range, he was always a perfect gentleman. Thanks Trooper, for all the memories and for helping make the world a better place. God's speed ...

Just My Opinion
5468
Points
Just My Opinion 04/11/14 - 04:47 pm
10
0
Thanks Trooper Terry, and

Thanks Trooper Terry, and thanks to WJBF TV. Now that I'm older, I greatly appreciate having this man and his show in my rich bank of great and sweet memories. I don't know why local TV stations refuse to even consider replicating shows like this that would become favorites for children and adults for years to come. I immediately think of Channel 12's Tim Strong as being the type who could pull off being the next local children's show host....Trooper Tim?? And, in keeping with the law enforcement angle, it would be great for the way children would see the police officers.

Red Headed Step Child
4027
Points
Red Headed Step Child 04/11/14 - 05:35 pm
9
0
Childhood

Trooper Terry is up there with HR Pufnstuf, Captain Kangaroo, The Electric Company, etc. They don't make 'em like they used to! We've definitely seen the end of an era...

Butterman
3680
Points
Butterman 04/11/14 - 05:35 pm
3
1
LeRoy
Unpublished

I wonder if LeRoy is still around?

Red Headed Step Child
4027
Points
Red Headed Step Child 04/11/14 - 05:50 pm
3
1
@Butterman

I heard somewhere that he's changed his identity...he was never able to recover from being identified as "THAT guy". He never thought his brother would out him that way... they are estranged to this day.

Just My Opinion
5468
Points
Just My Opinion 04/11/14 - 05:51 pm
4
2
Butterman, I had heard that

Butterman, I had heard that Leroy had become a very rich and successful musician..playing the concert violin, with a beautiful wife and huge home. Years went by and he lost it all.
I guess you can say he fiddle-farted it all away!

MTBer
591
Points
MTBer 04/11/14 - 08:14 pm
3
0
House

Buddy of mine just bought his house a couple months back. The house had become a bit much for him, with the landscaping and pool. Sorry his "retirement" didn't last longer. So many Augusta residents have great memories of Trooper Terry.

Truth Matters
6633
Points
Truth Matters 04/12/14 - 07:24 am
1
0
Did the friend buy Leroy's

Did the friend buy Leroy's house or Trooper Terry's house?

nocnoc
41344
Points
nocnoc 04/12/14 - 08:42 am
4
0
RIP Mr. Sams

One of Augusta's most jovial people.
There are extremely few like him promoting good, fun and uplifting entertainment in media today.

He will be missed.

An Yes I feel the CSRA Media could use another Local School Age <16 show done at different areas schools each week.

nocnoc
41344
Points
nocnoc 04/12/14 - 08:42 am
3
0
BTW:

Whatever happen, to the Magic Viewing Screen?

seenitB4
85748
Points
seenitB4 04/12/14 - 09:44 am
2
1
He could do it all

The best babysitter of all time....I cooked supper while they watched him..thank you SIR.

Jake
32345
Points
Jake 04/12/14 - 11:11 am
1
0
When I first....

....moved to Augusta in 1960, WRDW had an afternoon show for kids that featured Capt Steamboat Bill. His set featured a mock-up of a pilot house of a steamboat and he was based in the Savannah River. There was also a toy doll, Rita the Lovely Senorita, and a puppet of a "Sea Monster" who's name escapes me. He would show Popeye cartoons. Anyone know what happened to him and who played the part?

KSL
126832
Points
KSL 04/12/14 - 01:32 pm
0
0
An Atlanta station had

An Atlanta station had Officer Don. Wonder which one came first.

DowntownJaguar
120
Points
DowntownJaguar 04/12/14 - 09:05 pm
2
0
The "Leroy" incident is an urban legend...

up there with Charlie Britt's pet....

Pops
7781
Points
Pops 04/12/14 - 09:40 pm
1
0
Agree with the previous post

Got the real scoop from the Trooper at the French Market Grill around 1992.....the "Leroy pharted story" never happened......Sams told me he never knew how it got started but assured me it never happened....

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