By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 8/19/19
Peter Samson, an icon in the Philly lacrosse scene for decades for his years of service building and coaching Radnor youth lacrosse and for creating the Katie Samson Lacrosse Festival and Foundation, died tragically today after a bicycle accident in New England.
Details on the accident are scarce, but close friends of family members said Samson, 68, was bicycling on a path Friday near his family’s Westport, Mass. home at the Rhode Island border at Little Compton when the accident occurred. No other information was available.
A family member told Phillylacrosse.com late Saturday that funeral arrangements will be announced soon.
Mr. Samson,67, was inducted into the Eastern Pennsylvania Chapter of the US Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 2017 and also was honored with the prestigious Founders Circle Award at the 2009 US Lacrosse Convention.
The Founders Circle Award is a unique award given every few years on the national level to someone who has founded a program, product or idea that has staying power within the sport. It is given to someone who has a positive impact on the youth game and/or its constituents and embraces the mission and vision of US Lacrosse.
Mr. Samson’s lacrosse accomplishments are many, including serving as the founder, director and coach of Radnor Youth Lacrosse for close to 30 years.
Mr. Samson also was past president of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Youth Lacrosse Association (SEPYLA). He may be most known for founding the Katie Samson Festival (KSF), which was created to raise money and awareness for spinal cord research and its causes in the name of his daughter. The Festival, which will be 20 years old next April, has long been the single largest one-day high school event in the country (27 games) and has helped the Foundation raise $2 million since its inception in 2001.
Mr. Samson also served as an assistant boys’ coach at Radnor High this year for the first time. The team reached the state semifinals. He also coached the A1 Radnor youth team to a championship.
When Mr. Samson received the Founders Circle Award, he grudgingly took credit. “Obviously, I’m incredibly honored,” he said after learning of the news. “I look at the people involved in nominating me. If someone is judged by the people who speak well of him, I’m a pretty lucky guy. I was thinking about the fact that someone would say, ‘Gee, you spend an awful lot of time for these programs,’ I was reflecting on how much I’ve gotten back form it; the enjoyment, the support of my family, the opportunity we have to be a positive force in kids’ lives.”
Mr. Samson practiced law in Philadelphia for 43 years. After starting his legal career at the Defender Association, he was a partner at White & Williams for many years and then went to Cipriani & Werner where he was Of Counsel in the firm’s Philadelphia office.
Comments on Peter Samson from the Philly lacrosse community:
“Peter was a force of nature that made so many great things happen for the town of Radnor whether it was on or off the field. His passion, his caring for everybody and his wanting to help everybody was so clear. Had a great wit that kept you on your toes at all times. Without a doubt he is the foundation of Radnor Lacrosse. He put that in place and the success the teams have had at the youth level, the township level and the high school all come back to his hard work and dedication. He put the town on the map in the lacrosse world. Beyond that he was a great coach and mentor, he was an awesome person to be living in this community. He had a great year; he led the A1 team to the championship and was as important as anyone on the coaching staff at Radnor for our success.” – Radnor boys’ head coach John Begier
“He is just beloved; nobody in the lacrosse community has this stature. He is an icon – more than that, a legend. He used to talk about the legends, and here he was legend in the making. What an unfortunate situation with Katie and yet and incredible transformation that he affected through her injury… how many people has he touched? It’s hard to fathom.” – Scott Growney, president emeritus of the Eastern Pennsylvania Chapter/Philadelphia Lacrosse Association and Eastern PA Hall of Famer
“I can’t think of anyone in my time that had more of an impact on youth lacrosse, and for that matter, kids, in the Tri-State area, then Peter. Truly off the charts amazing!! We battled as competing coaches, as league administrators, as Philly business professionals, but were always able to a grab some food every month and laugh about it all. I thank him for what he did for my kids, among the thousands and what he taught me! I’ll miss the monthly lunches with my good friend.” – Ron Forster, Co-Founder of Abington Lacrosse Club
“Peter was a terrific civil trial lawyer with a loyal client following.
He was also an accomplished skier who make navigating steep moguls look effortless. He passed these skills (along with his lacrosse knowledge) on to his children: David, Brian, Katie and Molly. Peter’s generous heart made him a frequent participant in charity fundraisers. I last saw him a few weeks ago at a benefit for Magee’s wheelchair tennis program.
Peter’s loss will be felt by many, but hopefully our grief will be tempered by gratitude for the many ways that Peter enriched our lives.” – Longtime friend Tom Hurd
“All of our kids knew him. When John (Begier) said Peter was joining the staff we knew he would have an impact on all of these kids. The kids were so excited to have him. Peter was there every day and had such an impact with every kid we coached – that’s what made the year so good. And he is the heart and soul of (The Katie Samson Festival). Peter has made sure that it has gone off every year (9) I have been there. He is such a force; we call him the Godfather of Radnor lacrosse. What a great person.” – Radnor Athletic Director and assistant boys’ lacrosse coach Mike Friel
“I was always in awe of Peter’s work for the lacrosse community and the KSF – I met Peter about 18 years ago through our connections with Shipley and his family and I was always inspired to do more for his cause. Every year Shipley was a part of the KSF we always looked forward to that day with our student-athletes as a day to teach our students and learn from Peter’s words of encouragement before our games. He always found a moment to talk to our Shipley squad and wish them well and thank them for playing. We are all in shock and our thoughts are with his family.” – Shipley boys’ coach Mark Duncan
“He has been a pillar of Radnor Youth Lacrosse. He was a selfless individual who had concern for for each and every kid in the program. He was an advocate for the underdog; he was so positive and brought the lacrosse community together. He turned a negative situation with his daughter into a positive influence for more lacrosse players outside of Radnor. It’s who he is. He was the guy there scheduling, getting goals, stringing goals, doing the stuff behind the scenes that no one knows.” – Dennis Goldstein, Radnor Youth Lacrosse coach (just received the Peter Samson Award 2 weeks ago)
“Just learning of the tragic passing of Peter Samson and we are heartbroken. We are at a complete lack of words. Mr. Samson was such a very special person and over the years we shared many wonderful conversations. He always held us in the highest regards and vice versa. Our deepest condolences, thoughts and prayers are with the Samson and Radnor families. Mr. S, you made everyone you met smile, you made everyone around you better, you gave so much of yourself to others. You devoted your life for the betterment of so many. Our community was enhanced because you were a part of it. Thank you for everything you gave to us all. Much love and respect Mr. S. You will be deeply missed.” – Pat Collleuori, CMO at HEADstrong Foundation
“He was a pillar of the lacrosse community, a towering figure who impacted hundreds, if not thousands, of young lacrosse players. It is a monumental loss to all of us.” – Bob Mongeluzzi, longtime coach and fellow attorney