Sammy Ladabaum, 85, a loving son, husband, and father passed away on Saturday December 29, 2018 after a brief illness in Corpus Christi. He was born on July 9, 1933 to Morris and Mae Ladabaum. Sammy grew up in Brownsville with his parents and his cousins Sam and Isy Kolmen, who lived around the corner. Sammy was known as Shorty and Cousin Sam was known as Big Sam since he was a 6 foot tall redhead.
Sammy grew up working at his parents store in downtown Brownsville. After graduating from Brownsville High School, he went to Texas Southmost College and then was drafted into the Army during the Korean War. Since he was an only child, he was sent to Germany where he drove tanks. During the war, he met Jerry Butchen of New York who became a lifelong friend. After completing his tour in the Army, Sammy completed his studies at the University of Texas in Austin in accounting. It was in Austin where he made another lifelong friend, Barry Kurtz. It was then at the Austin Hillel that Sammy met the love of his life, Randa.
Sammy and Randa were married in Houston in June of 1960 and were married for 46 years, until her untimely death of lung cancer in 2006. Sammy loved Randa and did everything with her. From washing dishes, working in the store together, going on weekly date nights, and attending Friday night services at Temple Beth El, they were always together. Throughout his life, Sammy was a caring and loving man and that was evident by his care for Randa, his parents, and his aunts Minca Kolmen and Fannie Ladabaum Bijman.
When Sammy got married to Randa, they moved to Brownsville where he went to work for his dad Morris at Alamo Clothing Store on Washington Street. Over the years, the store moved two times to its' last home the old Grande Theater. His wife Randa helped him in the store and loved bringing in plants. Sammy sold hats, boots, jeans, and more! He was one of the largest retailers of Stetson hats in the United States and was very proud of that fact! People from all over came to buy straw and felt hats from Sammy. He decided to open charge accounts in the 1970's and helped many hundreds of families establish credit and get clothing for their families.
Sammy and Randa had two daughters, Belinda and Gail. Sammy was a loving and hard working father. Sammy worked diligently to give his family experiences in life that he was not able to have growing up. As a little girl, Belinda looked up to her Dad and wanted to be just like him. He taught Gail and Belinda the value of hard work. Sammy taught Belinda how to work at the store...write up sales, fit clothing on customers, go to market, and more. Belinda and Sammy spent many an afternoon talking about the future, college, and about reading articles in his favorite Wall Street Journal. He sent Gail to computer camp in the 80's as they both knew that it would be a good skill to have in life. They talked daily about her work at Texas Mutual. Gail fondly remembers the Sunday rides around town and the special dinners at restaurants on Thursday night with the family.
To say he was an avid reader would be an understatement. He loved reading several newspapers daily, as well as reading a plethora of 20-30 magazines a month. Sammy loved watching CNN and Fox News as well as talking about local Brownsville politics. He and his friends, Pancho Maldonado, Vincent Crixell, Henry Zepeda, and Joe Trevino would meet every morning at 11 a.m. at C&L Drug Store downtown to discuss the daily Brownsville and national news stories. He also enjoyed conversing with the merchants in downtown Brownsville. Israel Lizka, Bernie Levin,and Bill Bradford Sr. were also his lifelong friends.
Sammy Ladabaum closed the Alamo Clothing Store in 1981 so he could retire and be with his wife Randa. Several employees had been with him for over 30 years. These employees were Juanita Martinez, Juanita Espionza, Raquel Deanda, Ana Maria Santillan, and Enriquetta Herrera. Sammy was a supporter of the BISD DECA program which taught high school juniors and seniors lifelong skills in business. One of the DECA Students became a friend of Sammy's for life, retired Brownsville Police Chief Carlos Garcia. Carlos worked for Sammy while he was in high school.
Little did Sammy know that when he retired, Randa would be diagnosed with lung cancer. He took fabulous care of her and they celebrated 46 years of happiness together. During her treatment in Corpus, they spent a lot of time with Doug and Belinda. Doug did a great job of getting them both to laugh at such a difficult time in their lives. Belinda, Gail, and Doug threw them a surprise 46th anniversary luncheon at Dolce Italian Restaurant filled with friends and family, a few months before she passed.
Throughout his life, Sammy was a walker. Whether it was downtown, Amigoland Mall, Sunrise Mall, or down McLelland Street. Sammy and Randa would be seen walking every night after dinner. After their walk, it was followed by a treat at the local Dairy Queen. He and his friends, Israel Lizka, Tony Verb, Oscar Gonzalez and Joe Trevino would walk every morning at Sunrise Mall and afterwards, hold "Court "at Whataburger to discuss the daily news.
Belinda, Gail and Doug surprised him with an 80th birthday party at Red Lobster. He had told Belinda that he did not have birthday parties or the extra indulgences in life while growing up. Sammy loved dogs...any color and size. He and Randa would often pick up dogs close to the house that were lost and the put them in the back yard until they found their owner. One dog in particular was Lucky. He and Randa picked her up on Boca Chica Blvd. and named her Lucky, because she was LUCKY to be alive.
Prayer, gratitude, and thankfulness were very important to Sammy. Throughout his life, he was a Friday night regular at Temple Beth El with his wife and daughters. He served on the Board of Directors as treasurer and assisted with many events. He served in the Bnai Brith Organization and worked on the United Jewish Appeal. He and Randa were also honored by the United Jewish Appeal.
One of his favorite sayings was "Si no te cuidas nadie se cuidas." The translation is "if you do not take care of yourself, no one will". Sammy was a quiet contributor to many organizations and charities throughout the United States.
He taught Belinda and Gail about the importance of saving and hard work. When Doug, Belinda, and Alyssa would visit him in Brownsville, he would often talk with Alyssa about saving and Judaism. Alyssa, now 21, looked up to him like a Grandpa and he looked to her as a granddaughter. Alyssa is Doug's daughter. Sammy and Randa met Alyssa when she was just 3 years old.
Two years ago, Sammy moved to Corpus to be near Belinda and Doug. Gail often came to visit him from Austin. He spent many a day outdoors reminiscing about the past and listening to his favorite country music.
Sammy will be missed by all. He is survived by daughters Gail and Belinda Ladabaum, Doug Tenore ( Belinda's fiancée), and Alyssa Tenore. Thank you to the wonderful staff at Elan Assisted Living and Memory Center, Post Acute Medical Specialty on Saratoga Blvd., Harbor Hospice, and his personal caregivers.
Graveside services will be on Monday, December 31, 2018 at 11:00 a.m. at the Hebrew Cemetery located at East Madison and East 2nd. Streets, Brownsville, Texas. Funeral arrangements are being made by Darling Mouser Funeral Home.