• Wed. Jan 12th, 2022

Sample Michael Dana, 55 | Obituary

ByRandall B. Phelps

Jan 8, 2022

Michael Dana Sample, 55, from Corry, died on Monday January 3, 2022 at UPMC Hamot following a brief illness. Mike was the longtime owner and publisher of The Titusville Herald and The Forest Press.

Born October 19, 1966 in Corry, Mike was the son of the late Janet (Neff) and George R. Sample II. He graduated from Corry Area High School in 1985 and received his bachelor’s degree from Penn State Behrend in 1989.

After college, Mike joined his father at Corry Journal to learn the journaling trade. In 1993, he left Corry to become production manager of The Crimson White, the student newspaper at the University of Alabama. Mike and his then-fiancée and later his wife Debra (Burkhart) Sample, also from Corry, loved living in the south. But when Mike received the offer to become editor of the Titusville Herald, the two were happy to pack their Jeep Grand Cherokee and a U-Haul truck back to Northwestern Pennsylvania for good. Mike has often joked about the events of their return north, including going through blizzard-like conditions in October and running into the annual Meadville Halloween Parade.

Mike was the editor of The Herald for almost 30 years, leaving in 2000 to work at the Corry Journal and returning in 2005 after purchasing The Herald. Later in 2008, he bought the weekly newspaper The Forest Press from Tionesta. As editor, Mike oversaw all aspects of both newspapers. He sold advertisements, laid out pages and reviewed stories. He was known to wait for customers at the front desk, answer phone calls and personally deliver missed newspapers to local subscribers. Those who knew Mike will remember his incredible work ethic and the kindness and professionalism he showed to everyone he met.

These traits were also well known during Mike’s seven years as a board member of the Northwestern Rural Electric Cooperative. He has been a dedicated and valued member of the Board of Directors, serving as Secretary for six of those years. Mike recognized the value of broadband Internet connectivity and encouraged the co-op to explore ways to bring this important public service to its members. He was a big supporter of the Member to Member program, a charity that helps members in financial difficulty pay their electricity bills.

Outside of newspapers and the Electric Co-op, Mike belonged to several civic groups and was honored as a Paul Harris Rotarian Fellow by the Titusville Rotary Club in 2016. He was also a member of the Board of Directors of the Titusville Chambers of Commerce and Corry.

Mike loved golf, skiing, music and concerts. He liked all jokes of varying quality very much. A longtime fan of the Penn State Nittany Lions and Miami Dolphins, Mike enjoyed watching both teams play on the sidelines as a member of the press. He loved to drive fast and lived up to his nickname “World’s Best Worst Driver” given to him by his stepfather. Mike also enjoyed his time in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. with family and friends.

Mike will always be remembered by Debbie as her lifelong partner with their “Forever, Forever and Whatever Happens” pact. He learned to love horses and farm work because of her and helped bring some of their foals into the world with his own hands. It was truly remarkable that a person who grew up in the city learned how to clean stalls from the best of them and had a passion for grazing brushwood, building pasture fences and daily farming chores.

Sydney and John-George will remember their father as their greatest champion whom they could ever call for help. They’re going to miss watching Jeopardy, playing Frisbee, going skiing and having summer fires together. In addition, they will deeply miss listening to music with their father and going to concerts with him. One of Mike’s favorite songs was “In My Life” by The Beatles, and his kids will always remember him playing it.

Mike is survived by his wife Debra of 27 years and their two children: Sydney and John-George Sample. He is also survived by his stepmother, Constance “Connie” Burkhart.

He is survived by his seven brothers and sisters; Christine Jordan, George “Scoop” Sample, Susan Sample, Janet Sample, David Sample, Kim Wiler and Patricia “Sam” Stetson. Five brothers-in-law also survive; Tricia Boyer, Thomas Burkhart, Holly DiPierro, Jill Slocum and Christine Bonner. Several nieces, nephews and relatives also survive.

In addition to his parents, Mike was predeceased by his stepfather, John Burkhart.

No public call time will be observed. A private memorial service will be held for the family.

The family requests that donations in Mike’s name be made to Northwestern REC Member to Member Charity in care of Northwestern REC, PO Box 207, 22534 State Route 86, Cambridge Springs, Pa. 16403.