Jessie Rena Gail Bennett Samples
Gail is affectionately known as a proud Brooksvillian. To her, community and patriotism are not abstract notions to be spoken of lightly. From education to culture, government to politics, Gail has made an indelible mark on some of this county’s most revered institutions. She grew up in the family business, A.G. Fridy Jewelers, across from the county courthouse until it closed after 66 years in 1980. After graduating from Hernando High School in 1955, she went to St. Petersburg Junior College and Florida Southern College. While at Florida Southern she became a sorority member of Zeta Tau Alpha. That led her to a career at Lykes Memorial Hospital, now Brooksville Regional, wearing many hats from lab technician to surgical assistant. Years later, she would play a pivotal role as a member and Chairman of the Hospital Board.
Gail is preceded in death by her husband of 46 years, Lester Samples Jr. They have three sons: Lester (Skip) Samples III, Raymond Garth Samples, both of Brooksville, and Rodney Fridy Samples and his wife, Dee Dee, of Charlotte, North Carolina; Four grandchildren: Austin, Carrington, Jarrod and Jessie Mae; one great-granddaughter, Gracie.
Physically, Gail conquered mountain after mountain throughout life. Whether it be the effects of childhood polio or the physical travails of today, she routinely exceeded expectations and pushed herself toward excellence in whatever project she took on. She gained state-wide recognition on the golf course and relished her monthly outings with the “Brassie” ladies golf league. Her love of golf led her and her friends to raise money and build the Quarry Golf Executive Course at Bud McKethan Park.
With a passion for local history, Gail was among the founders of Hernando County’s Heritage Museum and the Brooksville Raid Civil War Reenactment. Later, she helped organize both Hernando High School’s 100 anniversary celebration and Hernando County’s Sesquicentennial celebration. She currently sits on Brooksville’s Great Brooksvillian Committee and serves as an officer of the Hernando Healthcare Foundation which provides scholarships to students for the Nursing Program at Pasco Hernando State College North Campus.
She served as Republican State Committeewoman of Hernando County and assumed campaign leadership roles for many Local, State and Federal campaigns. Gail transformed candidate outreach by creating a methodology targeting absentee voters, a model that has since been duplicated state-wide. Through all of these efforts, Gail worked hand-in-hand with her close friend, State Committeeman Tom Hogan Sr.
She did not perform all of these functions without the assistance and support of many people within the community. Gail has always felt a responsibility to respond to the community’s needs and greatly enjoyed volunteering for projects and events that would bring people together and strengthen her hometown.
A Visitation for family and friends will be held from 12:30-1:30pm, Sunday, December 16, 2018 at Merritt Funeral Home, Brooksville Chapel, where Funeral Services begin at 1:30pm, with Pastor David Hope officiating. Graveside Service will take place at 10:00am, Monday, December 17, 2018 at Florida National Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers please donate to the Hernando Healthcare Foundation, Inc.
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