Sam Rufus Clare ’54

A Southern gentleman who believed in family, faith, and country, Sam Rufus Clare, 88, of Midlothian, Va., peacefully passed away on November 11, 2020.

He was predeceased in November 2015 by his wife of 59 years, Dorothy Anne Cox Clare; his parents, Fulton Warren Clare and Ruth Elizabeth O’Sullivan Clare; and his brother, Fulton Warren Clare.

He is survived by his devoted daughter, Hilary R. Clare of Midlothian, Va.; son, Mark S. Clare; niece, Elizabeth Clare Weatherman of Kings Mountain, N.C.; nephew, Sam Z. Swygert (Elaine) of Woodbury, Ga.; and many dear cousins.

Sam was born in Atlanta, Ga. He graduated from Sewanee Military Academy in Sewanee, Tenn., in 1950 where he played football, basketball, and baseball pitcher known as “Slinging Sammy.” He was a Distinguished Senior and “B” Company Commander. Sam attended Davidson College in Davidson, N.C., for a year-and-a-half, where he was a member of Kappa Alpha Fraternity like his father. He then served in the U.S. Army for three years during the Korean War.

Upon his discharge to the Reserve in January 1955 he returned home to Atlanta and enrolled in Georgia Institute of Technology. He met the love of his life, Dorothy Cox, and they were married in September 1956. While attending college on the GI Bill he worked a number of part-time jobs including a holiday season postman.

He graduated from Georgia Tech with a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Management and began working in September 1957 with DuPont in Waynesboro, Va., and later in Chattanooga, Tenn. Sam moved into Human Resources as his career. He spent several years with Hercules in Covington, Ga., before joining Merck & Co. Inc. in 1971 as the Personnel Manager in Elkton, Va.

Several years later he moved to corporate in Rahway, N.J., and eventually White House Station, N.J. He enjoyed traveling to Merck plants in the U.S. and abroad with Ireland being his favorite.

During his 22 years at Merck, Sam was a member of the Corporate Senior Labor Relations Committee, the Corporate Benefits Committee and the Salaried and Hourly Pension Committee. At his retirement party one of the union leaders commented, “If Sam Clare gives you his word you can take it to the bank.”

Sam retired as Director of Human Resources for Merck Manufacturing Division. He was a member of the Society for Human Resource Management and its predecessor American Society for Personnel Administration “ASPA” serving as Charter President of the Central Georgia Chapter, District Director in Virginia, Regional Vice President and a member of the Board of Directors. Sam also served as a member of the Certification Committee in the area of Employment and Labor Relations. In 1978 he received certification as Senior Professional in Human Resources from the Personnel Accreditation Institute.

Sam was active in the United Methodist churches his family belonged to in different states where he taught adult Sunday school, was a member of the men’s group and was a youth group leader. He and Dot moved to Williamsburg, Va., in 1993 upon his early retirement from Merck. He had a chance to play more golf which had been a hobby for many years. While he never shot his age, he did get that elusive hole-in-one in June 1996 at Two Rivers Country Club in Williamsburg. He was active in his new community serving various positions and committees including President during the transition from the developer to the homeowners.

Like his father he prided himself as an honest man and one with integrity. His warm smile made many friends in his lifetime. He loved his family, faith, his country, golf, Georgia Tech, practical jokes, the poem “The Man in the Glass” and the comic strip “Dennis the Menace.” Sam was truly the kindest Southern Gentleman you could ever meet and will be greatly missed by all who knew him. Special thanks to everyone at Hospice of Virginia.

Due to Covid-19 services will be private. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association or American Heart Association.

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