In Praise of Sam
“We have to do something to honor Sam Palma this year!” insisted Mahala Ruppel, Secretary for the Friends of Gates Public Library Board. “He’s handled every book sale for the Friends for the past 15 years ever since the Friends started! That’s a lot of work!”
“Yes,” I enthusiastically agreed, “plus Sam had another 10 years of volunteering on the Library Board from the mid 1970’s to the mid 1980’s. In fact he joined the steering committee for the new Friends when he came off the Library Board. He’s given more than 25 years of volunteer service to our library. Recognition of his volunteer efforts is long overdue!’
From this innocent beginning, a core group of Friends Board members began planning a surprise roast for ‘a rare man,’ Sam Palma. We never thought we could keep the event planned for November 29th at the Party House a secret, but this group of women did just that, despite Sam walking in on us over and over as we met in the library meeting room.
Over 130 people from the community joined a gala surprise roast for much beloved Sam Palma. Even as Sam walked into the Party House where he thought he was going to watch his daughter receive an award, he said to his wife, Doris, ” Gee, I didn’t know my daughter knows all the same people I do.” Only then was the truth revealed and the fun began!
Everyone had favorite Sam stories to tell and others had gag gifts. Ralph Esposito, Town Supervisor, was Master of Ceremonies for the event. Many who had known Sam from years past came to the event. The day happened to be my 60th birthday and I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate my birthday than to bring my daughters and enjoy the good times together with Sam and friends.
In every community, there is a powerhouse of a community volunteer who always gets things done and who is known in every organization. Sam is just such a person and I like to think of Sam as ‘The Heart and Soul of Gates’ because he embodies all the fine qualities that attracted me to live in this town for the past 30 years. Over the past 15 years he has run the Friends’ used book sales, he has raised over $75,000 for the library.
The next time you’re at Gates Public Library, look around at all the brass plaques on the equipment in the library. If the plaque says it’s from the Friends, then you know Sam raised the money for that piece of equipment through the Friends’ used book sales.
So here’s to Sam Palma and here’s to the great team of Friends Board members, Mahala Ruppel, Jesse Matroniano, Joan Bawden, Kay Feraios, and Betsy Hoppe that planned this ‘roast of a rare man’ in concert with Doris Palma, who’s kind enough to share her husband with the community!