Anna Mae Sampson, age 93, passed away peacefully on Thursday, March 23, 2017 at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, surrounded by her loving family. Anna was born August 30, 1923 in St. Louis, Missouri to Bishop Robert B. and Mother Bettie Harris, one of 13 children. She attended Cole Elementary School and Sumner High School in St. Louis. After graduating from high school, Anna attended Alabama State Teachers College in Montgomery, Alabama, where her athletic talent led to her selection to the women’s varsity basketball team.
After returning to St. Louis from Alabama State, Anna married Elgie L. Sampson. They lived in Manchester, New Hampshire for three years while Elgie served in the military before settling to raise their family in the historic Lewis Place Neighborhood in St. Louis. Anna and Elgie were married for 30 years. Together they had five children: Annette, Jacqueline, Elgie Jr., Vanessa and Erie. After her husband passed away, Anna met Raymond Eldridge Sr., and they enjoyed 15 wonderful years together until he died. With great sadness, Anna had to mourn the loss of two children, Annette and Elgie Jr.
Anna was raised by her parents in a strong religious environment, believing “all things work together for the good of them who love the Lord and who are called according to His purpose.” Her dedication and service to God began in her father’s church, Triumph the Church and Kingdom of God in Christ, where she taught Sunday school for 25 years. After her mother’s passing, Anna joined Greater Mount Carmel Baptist Church, where she was a member for 30 years. For the past 16 years Anna was an active member of Central Baptist Church.
Anna’s greatest joy was her family. She held daily conversations with her sister, “Cookie”, her children and many other members of her family. After raising five children, she wholeheartedly embraced her role as family matriarch, helping to care for many of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Anna was one of the pioneers in organizing the Harris Family Reunion. She also co-founded the Taplin Family Reunion, which brought together her family from all across the country to join her in celebrating and cementing the family’s strength, history and achievements.
For the past 60 years, Anna had an unbroken commitment to improve the lives of the residents in her community. She served as President of the Fountain Park, Lewis Place and Vandeventer Neighborhood Weed and Seed initiative, and Anna was recognized by the U.S. Department of Justice for her outstanding work in this program. In 2002 and in 2013, Mayor Francis Slay proclaimed Anna a “Neighborhood Hero” for her dedicated public service to the Lewis Place Neighborhood. Also, the Hopewell Center presented Anna with the “Award of Hope” for her outstanding dedication and work in creating comprehensive health and mental health services for disadvantaged communities. She was a board member of the Union Sarah Economic Development Corporation and The Yeatman Health Center.
Anna was a lover of music and quite a good pianist. She enjoyed playing gospel hymns, especially her mother’s favorite song, “He Knows Just How Much We Can Bear.” She also knew many of the jazz greats including Miles Davis, Duke Ellington and Clark Terry.
She enjoyed politics, and was an early and staunch supporter of our nation’s first black President, Barack Obama. Anna also reveled in domestic and international travel with her immediate family.
Anna leaves to mourn her passing three daughters and four sons-in-law, Jacqueline Tatum (Rodney Tatum), Charles Hayes, Vanessa Sampson-Stroman (Ronald Stroman) and Erie Sampson (John Young); her sister Roberta (Cookie) Lowe; 12 grandchildren (Rodney Tatum, Jr; Jacqueline Hayes Robinson; Anna Tatum; Dionna Sampson; Jeanine Bills; David Tatum; Imara Bethel; Brandon Sampson; Jessica Hayes; Jarrett Stroman; Jordan Stroman; and Solomon Tsegaye); as well as 22 great-grandchildren and numerous cousins, nieces, nephews and friends.
On Thursday, March 30, 2017, the funeral service for Anna Mae Sampson will be held at Central Baptist Church, 2842 Washington Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63103. Visitation will begin at 2:00 PM. Funeral service will start at 3:00 PM.