David Sam

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David Sam (born August 12, 1933)[1] is a Senior United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Utah.

Background and early life[edit]

Andrew Sirb and his future wife, Flora Toma, were both born on 25 February 1894, on the same street in Beliu, Romania.[2] They married in April 1913 and began planning to flee political oppression on the eve of World War I. In March 1914 Andrew set off for the United States, walking or riding trains as available. He was arrested (for traveling without proper paperwork) and supposedly sent back to Romania, but managed to board a train traveling westward instead. He walked much of the 750 miles across Austria-Hungary, then was arrested again upon entering Germany. However, a kind-hearted German officer helped him obtain a visa and passport, and put him on a US-bound ship. He wired Flora to inform her of his departure (she had previously obtained a visa, and thus was able to travel without problems); she departed Europe just as war-clouds began preventing such movement.

Andrew Sam (his name had somehow become altered during the paperwork involved with the immigration offices) and Flora Toma Sirb/Sam were reunited in Hobart, Indiana, where he worked in a steel mill, purchased a farm, and they raised 11 children (one died in infancy). The youngest child was David, born 12 August 1933. Flora died in 1937; the children were essentially raised by Andrew and one of his daughters, also named Flora.[3]

Several of the Sam brothers were excellent basketball players during high school, and two of them (Joe and David) attended college on athletic scholarships. Another brother, Dan, decided to attend Brigham Young University in Utah when he learned of its highly-rated basketball program. While there, he was converted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and returned to Indiana to bring several members of the family (including David) into the church.

David Sam was student body president and star of the basketball team in high school, attended Valparaiso University for a year, then transferred to BYU in Utah. After three years he served a religious mission (to Minnesota) for the church (financially supported by his brother Dan).[4]

Sam received a B.S. degree from BYU in 1957, then earned a law degree from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City in 1960.


Sam served as a United States Air Force Captain in the Judge Advocate General Corps from 1961 to 1963. He ended his military career in California, where he lived with his first wife Betty (died 27 August 2000); they had two children by the time he left the Air Force.[4][5]

After leaving the military, Sam worked in private practice in Duchesne, Utah and Roosevelt, Utah from 1963 to 1973. He was a Duchesne County Attorney from 1966 to 1972, and served as a Duchesne Commissioner from 1972 to 1974. He returned to private practice in Duchesne from 1973 to 1976 before being appointed as a District Judge in the Fourth Judicial District of Utah from 1976 to 1985. He also taught as an adjunct professor at Brigham Young University from 1977 to 1985.

On September 9, 1985, President Ronald Reagan nominated Mr. Sam to fill a U.S. District Court seat vacated by Aldon J. Anderson. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on October 16, 1985, and received his commission the same day. He served as chief judge from 1997–1999, and assumed senior status on November 1, 1999.

Return to Romania[edit]

In 1991 Sam and Betty traveled to Romania to participate in a conference exploring the ramifications of that country's transition from Soviet-era domination to post-Cold War status. While there, they were able to travel the 150 miles to his parents' birth village, where they introduced themselves to many of his parents' friends and relatives.[4]

Later life[edit]

Sam was called by the LDS Church to preside over the Bucharest-Romania Mission, effective upon his taking senior status from his judicial duties. However, in February 1999 his wife Betty was diagnosed with A.L.S. (Lou Gehrig's disease), and he declined the call in order to tend her. She died in August 2000.

In January 2005, Sam re-married, to Bennie Lynn Rolfe, a previous acquaintance from his days in Duchesne, Utah.


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ Dennis Lythgoe (26 September 1991). "Utah judge glimpses his roots in emotional visit to Romania". deseretnews.com. Retrieved 18 June 2009. 
  3. ^ Flora did not have time to date and marry while helping with her younger siblings; she accompanied David when he traveled to Utah to enter college, and remained there when she found a job at the veterans hospital. She eventually married in Utah.
  4. ^ a b c Robinson, Doug, The Gentle Man on the Bench, Deseret News, 3 July 2016, p. B1
  5. ^ Their family eventually had six children, and they also adopted two girls.
Legal offices
Preceded by
Aldon Junior Anderson
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Utah
Succeeded by
Paul G. Cassell