William Taylor Sams ’37

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President Woodrow Wilson had just been narrowly re-elected and was in his second term as President of the United States when William Taylor Sams '37 (Gamma Alpha #518) was born on December 6, 1918. To appreciate the historical significance, World War I was winding down, prohibition had been ratified, women had still not been granted the right to vote, a loaf of bread was 8 cents, a quart of milk was 12 cents, the average annual salary for workers in the U. S. was $1,300 a year and Babe Ruth was a pitcher with the Boston Red Sox before being traded to the New York Yankees.

Born in Gainesville, Florida, Taylor moved at an early age to New Smyrna Beach, Florida and then moved back to live with his Grandmother in Gainesville, Florida where he was raised. He remembers his high school days in Monticello, Florida and says, "There were entirely too many Billy's at the time... so they called me Taylor. I believe I was the only one named Taylor..."
The country was making the transition from the wire telegraph to the radio, and Taylor remembers when he was 7 years old listening to the first live broadcast of President Calvin Coolidge's inauguration in 1925. "That was a big deal in those days as everyone huddled around the radio... even when the reception was bad. I still remember listening to 'The Cisco Kid' and 'Captain Midnight' back then..." Taylor also remembers the first talking movie 'The Jazz Singer' which was released in 1927, the Stock Market crash of 1929 and everyone's favorite cartoon character was Mickey Mouse in Steamboat Willie.

As the 1920s was the decade of entertainment, the decade of the 1930s was best remembered by the collapse of the stock market and the ensuing Great Depression. It is in this environment that Taylor applied to college. "The opportunity to go to college... particularly a quality school like The Georgia School of Technology, as Georgia Tech was called back then, was a dream come true," recalls Taylor. In 1936 he was accepted and made the long trip to the big city of Atlanta to enroll as a co-op student and an Electrical Engineering major. The school's name was officially changed to The Georgia Institute of Technology in 1948 to reflect a growing focus on advanced technological and scientific research.

Since 1896, our Chapter has prepared men dedicated to the promotion of professional development and to the building of a strong network among Alumni. The Chapter's graduates are a living advertisement for the quality of Sigma Nu as evidenced through their enthusiasm and their considerable accomplishments. This alumni profile is the latest in a series on Gamma Alpha alumni who truly 'Walk in the Way of Honor.'

Sigma Nu had a very small fraternity house on 5th Street close to Rose Bowl Field. There were maybe 5 or 6 small bedrooms...
Taylor Sams '37 (GA #518) The memories of the 1929 National Championship game where Georgia Tech defeated The University of Georgia in the last game of the season, and then went on to defeat The University of California in the Rose Bowl were still fresh in everyone's mind. Sams remembers, "That was the game where the player for California, Roy 'Wrong Way' Riegels, picked up a fumble and ran 65 yards in the wrong direction... His teammates finally caught him and turned him around
before the Tech players tackled him on the 3 yard line. Georgia Tech barely won (8-7). I also remember we had to wear our Rat Caps up until the freshman game versus the University of Georgia on Thanksgiving Day. I'm sure glad we won my freshman year."

There were several class mates from Taylor's high school who had been Sigma Nu's at the University of Florida, so when
he arrived at Tech, he decided to rush Sigma Nu fraternity and met a terrific band of brothers. "We had a very small fraternity
house on 5th Street close to Rose Bowl Field. There were maybe 5 or 6 very small bedrooms; and since I was a co-op student, I
lived in the house year round, even when I was working. I remember one of the Brothers had a Model A Ford...and another
Brother had a Model T he had purchased for $10. All of the Brothers had to work part-time for spending money. I worked as
a co-op for Westinghouse Electric Company. I made 5 cents an hour. Many of the other Brothers worked at the old Coca Cola
Bottling Company. They made 4 cents an hour... that was good money. Even back then Sigma Nu was one of the best fraternities on campus..." While at Tech, Taylor was active in a variety of campus activities and is one of the founding members of Omicron Delta Kappa at Georgia Tech. ODK is a national leadership fraternity requiring the highest academic and leadership standards.
The organization recognizes students who have attained a high standard of efficiency in collegiate activities, consistently
encouraging scholarship and intellectual development.

Upon graduation in 1941, Commander Sams was called into service for WWII. After ROTC training at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, he was shipped to New Caledonia. During WWII, U.S. and Allied Forces built a major position in New Caledonia to combat the advance of Japan in South-East Asia. The proximity of the territory with the South Pacific permitted quick repairs on damaged U.S. ships. After his service, Taylor moved to Jacksonville, started working for Westinghouse Electric and then started his own small electric company which has grown into Southern Electric Company. He is still married to his beautiful wife of over 50 years, Patricia, and until recently enjoyed his boat and fishing.

Taylor is still a proud RAMBLIN WRECK and follows the Yellow Jackets whenever he can. He and Patricia attended a reception
hosted by Brothers Chester Stokes '62 - Gamma Alpha #1137, and Hawley Smith - Gamma Alpha #1191, after the ACC Championship game versus Wake Forest in the Gator Bowl in 2006.

"I will always love Georgia Tech and my days in college... and I will always love Sigma Nu Fraternity and the band of brotherhood that we shared. Unfortunately, there are not too many of us still around..." When asked about the new fraternity house, Taylor commented, "I have seen the pictures of the new house and it truly is grand, all of the Brothers should be very proud."