June 5, 1922 – February 23, 2013
Dr. Helen Fletcher Sams passed away at home on Saturday, Feb. 23, at the age of 89.
She was fondly and respectfully know by most in the Fayette County community as “Dr. Helen.”
Dr. Helen was born in Greensboro, Fla., the sixth of eight children of the late Thomas Bertelle Fletcher and Elvira Hentz Fletcher.
Dr. Helen graduated from Florida State College for Women in 1945 and entered Emory University Medical School, a member of the second class in the history of the school to include women. At Emory’s request, she spent one year as a teacher of anatomy in order to allow a male physician professor to serve in World War II.
It was in medical school that she met the love of her life, Ferrol A.Sams, Jr. The were married in July, 1948. In 1949, during her senior year, Dr. Helen gave birth to their first child, Ferrol A. Sams, III. Emory was faced with the unprecedented issue of establishing a maternity leave policy for medical students. After internship the young doctors returned to Fayetteville in 1951, where Dr. Helen was the first female physician to work in Fayette County. Here they reared their family and practiced medicine until their retirement in 2006.
Dr. Helen was a member of Phi Beta Kappa Society(FSCW), Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society, and an honorary member for life of the Board of Directors for the Joseph Sams School in Fayetteville. Dr. Helen, a true servant spirit, also served on the board of the former Pine Valley Girl Scout Council, the Mental Health Association of Fayette County, and was a driving force in establishing the United Way in Fayette County. She also served on the first board of directors of Piedmont Fayette Hospital. Additionally she shared a lifelong passion for nature and wildflowers with her husband. When asked once what was her greatest fulfillment, she stated that it was her family.
Dr. Helen is survived by her children, Dr. Ferrol A. Sams, III (Kathy); Ellen Sams Nichol (Luke); Dr. James C. Sams (Marie); and the Honorable W. Fletcher Sams (Dana), all of Fayetteville; three brothers, T. Bert Fletcher, M.D., John Fletcher, M.D., and Max Fletcher, all of Florida; eight grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren and legions of beloved nieces and nephews.
She is predeceased by her beloved husband of sixty-four years, Ferrol A. Sams, Jr.; two grandchildren, Jennifer Sams and Joseph Sams; her sister and three brothers.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to The Joseph Sams School, a school for children with special needs serving eight counties, 280 Brandywine Blvd., Fayetteville, Ga. 30214.
Carl J. Mowell Funeral Home, Fayetteville – www.mowellfuneralhome.com