Sam died of a heart attack on February 3, 2006.
He was found on 82 Street between Broadway and West End Avenue.
A memorial gathering of 80 or 90 friends met by his favorite bench on Riverside Drive on February 11th.
He was a dear man and will be missed in our community that he adopted as his home.
He brought us so much love and kindness, we adopted him too.
I'm very saddened to lose you Sam.
Ted Knerr 2/16/06
The Sunday New York Times City Section 2/19/06 published an article on Sam by Ellen Pall with my photo below.
Sam, Riverside Park, 83rd Street, Mount Tom in background, 10/23/05, photo TK
from a Columbia School of Journalism classbook - he received a Masters' Degree in 1972
.click to view article on Sam, Columbia Journalism Alumni Journal, Spring 2006
Sam, Sam, the homeless man
Essay by Marte Previti
New York City, December 30, 2000
... When I looked down at Mount Tom at 83rd Street in Riverside Park this morning through the haze of hexagonal ice crystals falling and softening the details of this familiar landscape, my eyes instinctively turned to the spot where I check daily on the status of the mysterious individual who is the subject of this essay.
... Imagine, if you will, a 'homeless man' who has a home, and right beneath my windows, where he apparently has taken up permanent residency. Technically speaking, Sam has a bedroom, albeit al fresco, on Mount Tom, to which he repairs each evening, bringing with him the artifacts which will protect him from the elements and assure his comfort during the night.
... I have viewed the construction of his bed with fascination as it involves a carefully planned series of steps which takes at least a half hour to complete.
... He is reserved and keeps to himself. I have passed him often on the street but have never tried to speak to him although I have sometimes nodded to him in greeting, receiving a curt, unsmiling nod in return. In fact, I only recently learned his name from my super who sets aside discarded clothing from the building to pass on to Sam, as do other kindly people, which explains the variety in his dress.
Click for full Previti essay
As it turned out, this was not the end of Marte's involvement with Sam. I'm a neighbor of Marte's and a fellow admirer and supporter of Sam.
A few days ago I greeted Sam on the street and he handed me an envelope saying to be sure to return it to him. It contained Marte's touching photo and story about him as well as a bio of Marte. My wife and I read this with great interest. Sam is a dear man who we've know and admired for many years, but who it's difficult to get to say much about his daily life. We had seen him on Mount Tom from our windows on the 7th floor a block north of Marte, but not in such detail or so close up as Marte describes. When I asked him where he slept in a recent storm he just gave his big smile and said, "Nowhere".
So it was a great pleasure to read this beautifully written account filling in so many unknowns about him. It bears out my impression that he's an important member of our local community - kind, moral, responsible and always upbeat. These are spiritual traits and all the more impressive in view of his obvious difficulties.
And we also found Marte's bio of great interest. His life has been colorful, creative and concerned with his fellow humans.
I contacted Marte and he very graciously allowed me to publish his photo and writings and I spoke to Sam and he was delighted to have this online. I plan to add to this page as material presents itself.
I think Sam's heartwarming example is a valuable contribution to our culture that fits right in with this site's intent to try to elevate our collective consciousness. Thanks, Marte, for your creativity and sensitive concern for Sam. And thanks to Sam for providing the inspiration.
Ted Knerr, 5/2004
A Eulogy for Sam -
My wife and I last talked to Sam a day or two before his death. He seemed a bit tired and distracted and later she saw him asleep, which we hadn't seen before.
Sam never seemed to consider himself a victim or a 'loser'. His shining example of remaining positive in spite of a very difficult life is inspiring. His presence reminded us that we're all equally human beings whatever our income or status. It always gave me a lift to see him and I'm glad his life is getting more public notice. To me it was a quietly noble life. Many we consider very successful don't have this spiritual quality, the mark of a true connection to life.
Sam was always shy about being photographed and had put me off when i asked for permission in the past. I happened to meet him one Sunday last October as I came out of the park at 83rd street. I had my camera with me and asked him again and for some reason he said yes. I didn't think of it at the time but it's serendipitous that Mount Tom is in the background and we were only a few yards north of his favorite park bench, so he's in his natural environment here. Maybe that's partly why he said yes, and perhaps he also had an intimation of his mortality and left us a smile.
I woke up this morning thinking about Sam and realized that he was very much like one of the holy men in India or a monk in Burma or Tibet. Except that Sam made his spiritual contribution without being given the public recognition of holiness. He wore no robes and didn't approach people for donations or even carry a beggar's bowl or coffee cup as a visual request. He also had New York winters to cope with, bravely and with ingenuity.
Of course many people think of the homeless as a drag on the community if they think of them at all, but I've come to realize their importance to us. I think Sam's homelessness and poverty had become the vehicle of his deep purpose in life, to nudge us all a small step toward enlightenment.
All these thoughts filled me with feelings of love for Sam. Then I remembered that this is valentine's day which was originally a celebration of SAINT Valentine, not only of earthly love (Cupid) but heavenly love (Agape) that includes all forms of love. We've secularized it much as we have Christmas, which has become too much about presents and Santa Claus (who we no longer think of as a saint either). I'm not suggesting we become more religious but that we celbrate our inner spirit.
Later I noticed someone had made a large cone of snow on Mount Tom near the spot where Sam used to sleep a few years ago. To me this seems to be a tribute, not the usual snowman kind of thing, and i wondered if some of the many people coming together in memory of Sam had made this as a fragile 'monument'.
A brief 'Monument' on Mount Tom in Sam's honor
1 ..... site philosophy
2 ..... artist's statement
3 ..... politics
4...... the holocaust and columbine
6...... animal allies - free game
8.......nancy - a memorial for my sister
9...... sam averiett - a homeless man in new york city
10.... memorial for my father
11.... memorial for my mother
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