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Sam Woodruff: Feb 28, 1949-Nov 12, 2012

Sam Woodruff's ArtEditor’s Note: This tribute was written by George Fischer, Sam Woodruff’s partner for many years. George sent us the photo of him and Sam. The other photos here were taken from Sam’s Facebook page, including the banner above, a photo that Sam commented on by saying, “This is a picture of a happy man!!!” (April 18 at 8:03pm). The photo with the children below is Sam with his grandchildren, Jack and Anna Wallace, who he loved dearly. The photo to the left is a photo of a display of Sam’s art. If you would like to add anything here, we welcome your comments and condolences on this page. Sam will be missed by the Merida community.


Sam Warren Woodruff was murdered early Monday morning on the 12th of November. He died a violent death that should never be the fate of anyone let alone a gentle and trusting soul like him.

Sam was one of those rare individuals who never said anything bad about anyone, never lifted a finger to hurt anyone and always thought the best of everyone. I have gathered my thoughts about this man and I am honored to be able to share them with you.

To my good friend Sam:

Sam Woodruff and George ArroyoI thought of you today when the sun came up. Actually, I have thought of you ever day for nearly 20 years. We have lived and loved together as brothers and shared so many good things in life. You enriched my life and of my mother, Maria Luisa also. You cared for her as a son and made a great difference in her life as you did in mine.

You and I, we were so different in so many ways Sam. We had difficult times, but, our friendship survived. You pushing me to open up, to relax, to take in all the wonderful fun things in life. To run and scream and shout with abandon. And me, trying to rein you in a bit, coming behind you to collect some of the things you scattered in the wind. Always, looking ahead to see if there was something in the road that would hurt you. You up front, smiling and laughing, and urging me on to run.

You are gone now. Some nameless and shameless person took away your life, your future and our joy. Well, nothing can hurt you again Sam and my job looking after you is almost done.

You leave behind a host of friends who love and care for you… your legacy is your smile, your gentleness and your complete honesty with those in your life. A friend once asked you how you would like to be remembered, you said, “I want to be remembered as an eccentric old artist.”

That you were, my dear Sam. You lived life to it’s fullest and enriched the many lives you touched during your 63 year journey.

Goodbye, my dear friend, Sam the man.


Watch Sam’s memorial service on video here.

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29 Responses to “Sam Woodruff: Feb 28, 1949-Nov 12, 2012”

  1. WOW! Thank you to Ellen for posting this and to George for writing this. INSPIRING to say the least! Every word is true and you are a courageous man for finding the words to express what SO MANY of us lack the volition and courage to say. Sam was part of my ‘extended’ group of friends here and I feel blessed to have known him and have fond memories of him. He WAS always smiling and ALWAYS happy, no matter what the situation! He was BEYOND GENEROUS with his time, positive vibes and BOUNDLESS ENERGY!!! We’ll MISS YOU SAM!!! XO Chris Zimmermann

  2. I am so sorry to hear of Sam’s passing. I didn’t know him but now I will never meet him. My dream is to live in Merida when I retire. I am so sorry to hear that it is becoming a dangerous place to be.

  3. Thank you for your heartwarming tribute to Sam, my dear, sweet brother. You have captured in words the essence of who Sam was as a person, friend, and brother. We are heartbroken that Sam has been taken from us too soon, but he will live forever on our hearts and memories. The memories will give us cause to smile and appreciate the gentle and caring soul that was our beloved brother Sam. Godspeed, Sam. Rest in peace with our heavenly father.

  4. So terribly sorry to hear about Sam. He was a gracious caring man.

  5. I’m Sam’s cousin. I have not seen Sam in many years, but growing up with him was fun and his good spirit will be missed greatly.

  6. What a wonderful portrait of Sam! Thank you George. We’re gonna miss that boy from North Carolina.

  7. What a wonderful tribute, George. As you have been a part of our family for so many years, I am grateful for all you have been and done for Sam. As you carry out his final wishes, our thoughts and prayers are for your strength and comfort. We treasure the excellent care you have given Sam, especially during the last two years. I have often thought that those last two years Sam was on this earth were a bonus we would haven’t had but for the care and motivation you gave to him. Love you Much!

  8. Like many others, we are deeply saddened both by Sam’s death and the manner of his death. We have known Sam as a good friend since he and George moved to Merida almost a decade ago. We loved his work as an artist. We enjoyed talking with him at his house and ours, and as we sailed in the Gulf. We were so happy to hear his stories last year about the time he spent with his grandchildren. Like many of his friends, we were both startled and thrilled by his impulsiveness and enthusiasm for what ever he was doing at the moment or wanted to do next. He was as much a force of nature as the norte wind that is blowing palm branches in our yard as I write this. We will miss him.

  9. George, thank you for your beautiful heart warming tribute. Sam was a wonderful, kind and generous friend. He was always the life and soul of the party. He leaves a hugh hole that will be hard to fill. Many hearts are aching in our Community, but one thing I know for sure, Sam would want us to pick ourselves up and carry on partying and living life to the full. We will never forget you dear friend. x

  10. I knew Sam as a teenager, Norma his youngest sister and I were friends. I can remember us coming in too late and Sammy (as I knew him) would help us get in the house without his mother catching us! Sammy was sooo much fun to be around always smiling! I have to say this editorial was fabulous! What a sad loss for everyone. Love you Norma and Donna prayers are with you!
    Always Martha

  11. George, your words (and others who posted here) are a beautiful tribute and comfort to those of us who cared about and fondly remember this dear and gentle man. We loved him in childhood and feel fortunate to have reconnected in with him in recent years to laugh, reminisce, and share thoughts and feelings. Indeed, the joy of his life was his grandchildren; and he swelled with pride when he spoke of them, his son and daughter-in-law. Sam had the soul of an artist, he conveyed that on canvas and in life itself. We miss him already.

  12. I am sorry and scared. We are planning to move to Merida, and this is really bad news to hear about a murder in Merida. How did this happen? We are thinking twice now…

  13. There is a wonderful song called ” I hope you dance” which contains the lyric: “When you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance ” …. Sam danced…We are heartbroken, and resolve, in Sams memory, to dance more… Love from the bottom of our hearts , Tony and David.

  14. Amy, we can understand your concern, but we are pretty sure you are not looking at the facts here. San Jose, CA is a city of a little less than 1 million people. In 2011, there were 39 violent homicides in San Jose, and according to this article, 33 so far in 2012 as of the end of August. In Merida, there have been, if we remember correctly, 11 homicides in 2012, far fewer than in Dallas, which I am sure you would move to without a second thought. You might also want to read this article about the relative violence between cities in Mexico and cities in the United States, which quotes statistics from the FBI. This article also mentions Texas, saying “Looking at the numbers, it might be wise for Texans to ignore their Public Safety department’s advice against Mexico travel. Five per 100,000 Texans were homicide victims in 2010, per the FBI. Houston was worse, with 143 murders, or a rate of 6.8 – over three times the rate for Americans in Mexico.” They go on to quote statistics about other states as well.

    So, yes, we are incredibly saddened that this has happened to someone we knew and loved. But no, we are not feeling any less safe here in Merida than we always have. Bad things happen everywhere… they just happen LESS in Merida.

  15. “I thought of you today when the sun came up. Actually, I have thought of you ever day for nearly 20 years.”

    Thank you George for writing your wonderful tribute to Sam. He will be greatly missed. He was truly a gentle man. It is a sad, sad time for those who knew him.

    Amy, it’s possible that you might have a difficult time adjusting to Mexico. With all the possible things to worry about in the world, I don’t think your safety in Merida should be one of them.

  16. i remember enjoying every encounter and loving every adventure i had with sam, now i will treasure them. now he gets a pair of real wings.

  17. This is very sad Sam was a nice person. George thank you for such a nice tribute for him, and I’m truly sorry for your and his families loss. RIP Sam you were a nice, caring man.

  18. Sam was the Co-Chairman of Artistas De La Playa in Chelem. He was the driving force behind the work that had to get done to organize and plan events for a diverse group of artists from many places around the world. His generousity with his time and his ever smiling face helped our group meet and achieve our goals and more importantly have a great time doing it! I am so saddened and lonely for Sam. I spent a lot of time on the phone or on the internet with Sam planning the future of our group. Thank you Sam for everything buddy! You are sorely missed and loved by so many people. I will work even harder now to make sure Artistas De La Playa meets and exceeds our dream. I will do it for you! ginnie

  19. Sam lived near us on the beach in Chelem/Chuburna. He was always up and down the roads in his VW convertible, with either Emiliano’s massage table in the back seat, or some of his pictures! I saw him one day at Home Depot, he taught me what fertilizers to get for my plants. We were both gardeners and loved flowering bushes. The first artists market we were at together, I was shy and Sam just took me under his wing, showed me the ropes, told me what to charge, and we were friends from that day on. He was a wonderful friend of mine. He helped my friends up here in Chelem get the Artisans de la Playa up and running, was the “muscle” they needed to make their dreams come true. Friday night before he died, he was the MC at a fundraiser at the Gallery in Chelem. Everyone was so happy that night and my last memory of him was offering to relieve him so he could eat dinner and he wasn’t worried, there would be plenty for him. At our tribute to Sam here in Chelem, POSITIVE PERSON was the word I heard the most to describe Sam. Smiling, energetic, and never looked back on the hardships (and there were many) in his life. He LOVED being reunited with his Son and meeting his Grandchildren. “It is a miracle” he told me and I believed him. I’ve never known anyone personally to have died a violent death and it saddens me that Sam’s last hours were not happy and positive as his authentic self was. I’ll always remember his tie dyed funky pants and tee shirt and his big, warm arms giving me a hug.

  20. Thank you, Christine and everyone for your stories about Sam. We are sure that his family appreciates this, and we know that his friends do, ourselves included.

  21. I was saddened to learn of this tradegy. From reading this article and the
    other comments, Sam had a wonderful, creative, and meaningful life. He
    will always be remembered and will always be missed.

  22. Of the five of us…Me first, Donna…10 months later, my brother…3 years later, Sammy…a few months later and Norma…a couple years later…Sammy was the happiest. He was always smiling, laughing, getting into some kind of mischief. He loved playing mischievous little jokes on people…especially the four of us! First cousins, our dads were brothers, we lived just a few feet from each other, we were in each other’s houses and yards and lives on a minute to minute basis…our lives so entertwined as to be more like brothers and sisters than cousions…24 hours a day until we grew up and went our separate ways.

    Growing up on the farm, getting our educations the ‘old fashioned’ way (the BEST way) we had a BLAST! We all had to work hard but we played just as hard and maybe harder than we worked. I remember Sammy as that laughing, running, playing, working, mischievous skinny little boy everyone loved. If we all got into trouble, Sammy was usually the one who went unscathed but we didn’t care…we just went ahead and got right back into trouble again!

    The world is not as good a place now as it was when Sammy (as I will always remember him) was in it. What a shame his countenance will no longer shine on the rest of us…we will be the worse off because of it. It is us who will suffer…as someone else said, “Sam now has his wings!” It will be good when we get our wings and can be with him again.

  23. I am so sorry to read this! It makes me so sad that people can hurt each other so violently! May God grant his friends and family peace. This year was my second vacation to Merida and the Yucatan which I love. I went with friends that were very hesitant to go due to concerns of safety, but I got them hooked. I did notice more crowding this year and the streets not as clean.I was informed by a cab driver that the population had grown by 40.000 due to Mexicans from other parts of the country moving to Yucatan because it is safer. My plan was to purchase and move full time, but I have something thinking to do now. Sam, rest in peace nd may God and his angel be with you!

  24. En esta vida hay personas que valen la pena tratar y recordar. Sam, siempre te recordare como la gran pesona que eres. Estes donde estes… se que estas bien.

    (Editor’s attempt at translation: In this life, there are people that it is worth knowing and remembering. Sam, I will always remember you as the great person that you were. You are wherever you are… I know that you are well.)

  25. Such a tragedy and great loss to our world and community! Sam lived such an enriched life and was blessed with so many wonderful friends and family. He will certainly be missed.

  26. We will miss you Sam!!!!

  27. Sorry, for the above comment with reference to George instead of Sam. I knew Sam & George when they lived in Atlanta and thought of them as one. This tragic news has obviously shaken me.

  28. (We corrected it for you… )

  29. We first met Sam before we came down from Canada in 2004. Upon our arrival he and George took us into their home and made us feel welcome. Over the years we have spent many happy times at various functions. Every day we sit at the dining room table and chairs we bought from them when they sold the house in Centro. Through them our lives have been enriched. Our hearts go out to his family and his beloved grandchildren. He was so proud of them. He will continue to paint sunsets in the sky for us all to enjoy!


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