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May 18, 2017 9:57 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Sam Price Remembered For Commitment To Helping Others

East End fire departments came out in full force to honor Sam Price, 25, the first lieutenant of the Agawam Hose Company in Southampton. Price died on May 17 after a battle with brain cancer. CAILIN RILEY
May 23, 2017 4:04 PM

It was impossible to be angry with Sam Price.

It was also impossible not to love him.

Nearly everyone who knew Sam Price, 25, who died on May 17 after a two-and-a-half-year battle with brain cancer, has a story to illustrate those points, including Southampton farmer Hank Kraszewski.

Sam worked at Mr. Kraszewski’s Pumpkintown farm in Southampton when he was a teenager, driving the hayride tractor during the busy pumpkin picking season, and helping out around the farm whenever he could. He particularly liked driving the tractors and—when he had one to himself—exceeding the recommended speed limit.

Mr. Kraszewski recalled an evening when he, his son, Hank Kraszewski III, and Sam, along with other employees, were shutting down the farm for the night. Sam had taken the tractor to the other side of the property, and was taking a long time to finish up.

It turns out that Sam had been having a bit too much fun with the tractor, driving too fast, when he hit a bump that dislodged a set of 600-pound counter weights in the front of the tractor, knocking them to the ground. He tried various ways to put the weights back in place, enlisting the help of other people still at the farm, hoping to solve the problem before Mr. Kraszewski discovered what he’d done.

Of course, it didn’t work out that way—Mr. Kraszewski eventually found Sam. He had to tell him he could have easily solved the problem by simply removing the bolt holding the six separate weights, each 100 pounds, together.

“He had all kinds of incidents with the tractors,” Mr. Kraszewski said while telling the story last week. “But you could never get mad at him. It was just the way he was—he was just always so happy-go-lucky. He’d just sit there and make a joke. But anytime we needed help, he’d be the first one to help.”

“He’d somehow manage to lighten the mood,” said the younger Mr. Kraszewski, who was friends with Sam. “Even if he messed something up, he’d make up for it two seconds later. He always figured out how to make things right. He was such a benevolent person that way.”

The Kraszewskis were one of many families in Southampton that Sam Price made himself part of, by force of his irresistible charm, outgoing nature and ever-present desire to lend a helping hand. Despite his youth, Sam was a well-known, well-respected and beloved member of the community, and his innate and relentless desire to help others became the defining characteristic of his short but significant life.

It’s why the turnout for his funeral on Saturday nearly brought Southampton Village to a standstill.

He was a seven-year member of the Southampton Fire Department, serving as 1st lieutenant of the Agawam Hose Company, and was also a nine-year member of the Southampton Village Volunteer Ambulance.

His funeral on Saturday was attended by firefighters from every East End department, and ambulance members from as far west as Patchogue made the trip to Southampton to pay their respects. A total of 21 agencies, between fire, EMS and police, were represented, according to Suffolk County Deputy Fire Coordinator Buddy Wines. Hundreds of firefighters and other volunteers paid their respects at firematic services on Friday night.

Ladder trucks from Westhampton Beach and East Quogue raised a large American flag just outside the St. Andrew’s Dune Church on Gin Lane, where funeral services were held on Saturday, and the casket was escorted under the flag, by fire truck, after the service. Fire department members walked alongside the truck as it made its way back into town and to the firehouse on Windmill Lane, where ladder trucks from Hampton Bays and Sag Harbor raised another American flag, which the casket was escorted under after a short ceremony in which Sam’s fire gear was laid in front of the department and saluted by his fellow firefighters.

When Mr. Price wasn’t serving his community with the fire department and ambulance squad, it was a safe bet he could be found outdoors. In addition to taking Mr. Kraszewski’s tractors for joy rides, he also loved boating, hunting and fishing. Sam played on the fire department’s ice hockey and softball teams, and he was even occasionally on horseback—a skill he picked up because his mother, Susan Price, is a horse trainer.

It was a pastime he shared with his fiancée, Tess Mahoney, an avid equestrian.

“He and I would go on trail rides every now and then, and he loved to be a helping hand at the barn,” Ms. Mahoney said, adding that their wedding was supposed to take place this fall at Twin Oaks Stables in Bridgehampton, where Ms. Mahoney rides.

Sam proposed to Ms. Mahoney in October of last year, enlisting the help of friends and family to paint the words “Will you marry me?” on a bunch of wooden pallets he’d collected, and placing them on Holmes Hill, a large sand dune in Southampton. His plan was to bring Ms. Mahoney out on his boat to see the pallets, but terrible weather that day altered the plans, forcing him to rely on video footage of the scene—taken by friends and sent to his phone to show Ms. Mahoney—instead.

Membership in the fire department was a family tradition, one that dates back to 1914, when his great-grandfather George C. Price joined the Southampton Fire Department before going off to fight in World War I. Several Price family members were chief of the fire department, and everyone attained at least a rank of captain, according to Sam’s uncle, David Price, himself an ex-chief, adding, “It’s quite the tradition, and we’re very proud.”

Sam followed in the footsteps of his father, Robert Price, grandfather Harry Price, and uncles, David Price and Norman Price. Sam started in the Southampton Juniors program at age 12, when his father ran that program, becoming the captain of the juniors in 2008, a year before he joined the company as a full officer.

Sam earned an associate degree from Alfred State University, where he studied plumbing so he could work in his father’s business.

“Sam came to the fire service with the same commitment and passion as his forefathers, but amplified,” said John Reister, captain of the Agawam Hose Company. “He was full of fire, of passion. He was active in so many things in the fire department, on so many levels.

“He was a true fireman and always showed himself as a leader,” Mr. Reister added. “He always wanted to take everybody to the next level.”

Sam relished being the center of attention, according to both Mr. Reister and Ms. Mahoney, who said his personality never changed despite his diagnosis.

“He was so funny. He had such a sense of humor,” Ms. Mahoney said. “He was always cracking jokes. And he was always there to help anybody who needed it. He was always ready to help friends.”

Sam was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer, two and a half years ago, and had two surgeries and went through both chemotherapy and radiation. For a time, the treatments seemed to work, and he was better. Then, about a month ago, the cancer returned. He had another surgery, but within a week, the cancer had returned again, and he died a short time later.

“He was the most positive person you would ever come across,” Ms. Mahoney said. “Despite the terrible diagnosis and news. I never once saw him cry or get mad. His attitude was, ‘What are you going to do? Let’s get in there and get surgery to take it out.’ He was so positive.”

“You could always count on him,” Mr. Reister said. “Whatever it was, if you reached out to him, he was right there. If anybody fell behind, he was there to pick you up and keep you going. It seemed like, on a daily basis, he touched everybody’s life.”

His desire to serve on the ambulance and in the fire department was just one illustration of that defining aspect of his personality. Jessica Zukosky taught Sam when he was in fifth and sixth grades, and she remembered his kindness to other students, in particular his friend Joe McLoughlin, who has physical handicaps and uses a walker. Sam made himself Mr. McLoughlin’s right-hand man, helping him get around in school and often carrying his books.

“Most kids that age are out for themselves, trying to be the first one upstairs or the first in class, but when it was time for class to start, I’d hear Sam first but I wouldn’t see him because he’d be holding the door open for Joe,” Ms. Zukosky said. “And he’d be holding Joe’s books. He didn’t have to do that because Joe had a teacher’s aide with him all the time to help him. But Sam was always there with him. It was just unusual for a kid that age, especially in middle school when kids start to see differences and kind of look the other way or are afraid to be different. But Sam never put himself first, from the age of 10 years old.”

Treating people that way was simply the essence of who he was, according to Sam’s younger sister Madeline Price, 23, who is also a member of the fire department. It’s why the fire department was a perfect fit for him, she said.

“He really liked to help people. He loved the fact that he got to help somebody after a fire, to save their house. He loved that he got to do it with his best friends and his family by his side. And he loved Southampton so much.

“He was such an amazing person,” she added. “I couldn’t have asked for a better older brother.”

Sam’s childhood friend, Ricky Fowler, is also a member of the ambulance and fire department and served alongside Sam. He was also supposed to be Sam’s best man in his wedding. He said his lifelong friend will be remembered for his selflessness, which was evident his whole life, even as recently as a month ago. Mr. Fowler called Sam to ask for advice about the hot water heater in his house and how to fix it. Instead of giving him pointers over the phone, Sam just came over and took care of it, Mr. Fowler said.

“He’d just stop what he was doing to make sure you had what you needed,” he said.

“He could change the mood in a room in a second,” Mr. Fowler continued. “He did so much in his time, and most of what he did was helping others. He was always doing something for other people.”

The family is asking for donations to the Southampton Volunteer Fireman’s Benevolent Fund, P.O. Box 499, Southampton, N.Y., 11969.

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Heartbreaking.
By Robert I Ross (212), Hampton Bays on May 18, 17 2:21 PM
Just FYI: A longer obituary will appear in print this week.
By Joseph Shaw, Executive Editor (200), Hampton Bays on May 18, 17 3:54 PM
Only the good die young. The lord took the best.
Fair winds and following seas, Sam.
By Draggerman (649), Southampton on May 18, 17 4:05 PM
My sincerest condolences to the Price family on this tragic loss to both the Price
family and the world. May God bless Sam, and the Price family.
By Jimion (101), Hampton Bays on May 18, 17 4:33 PM
May the tides rise rise with you.
By knitter (835), Southampton on May 18, 17 4:59 PM
One of a kind!
By metsfan2 (126), southampton on May 18, 17 5:50 PM
very sorry for your loss..very sad..
By dtrain (4), Dallas on May 18, 17 6:18 PM
Only the good die young is right. Another gem lost to a despicable disease. My prayers go out to the extended Price family.
By KevinLuss (352), SH on May 18, 17 6:23 PM
1 member liked this comment
Heartbreaking, as a parent I just could'nt imagine this. The Prices are a great family and our thoughts and prayers go out to them..
By North Sea Citizen (449), North Sea on May 19, 17 6:32 AM
Such a wonderful person and family. Sam will be sorely missed. FYI: Harry Price is Sam's grandfather and Norman Price is Sam's uncle. Please correct.
By workingmomof4 (19), Southampton on May 19, 17 2:21 PM
An inspiration for all. Rest Easy Sam. Your community mourns your loss.
By bridge (7), bridgehampton on May 19, 17 7:19 PM
Article like this should be unlocked.
By Mouthampton (339), Southampton on May 20, 17 9:14 AM
We will miss you Sam..rest easy and fly free.
By sandydog21 (182), Southampton on May 20, 17 8:39 PM
He was a great friend and will be missed!!
By JM11968 (65), southampton on May 22, 17 9:21 PM
Very sad to hear! Deepest condolences to the Price family. May God bless you.

By Moral Dolphin (12), Southampton on May 26, 17 10:46 AM