Sam Shapiro Gives Again

Sam Shapiro

Waterville, Maine

“We’d have just a piece of bread and butter and coffee with cream for dinner and still (my mother) insisted we take this man oatmeal every day. He lived a couple blocks down — we didn’t even know his name.”

Sam Shapiro







Giving is as ingrained in Sam Shapiro as his Jewish faith, both of which he practices on a regular basis. His philosophy on each can be summed up in the way he fondly remembers his mother, a Yiddish-speaking, care-taking, first-generation Jewish immigrant. Sam recalls delivering a pot of oatmeal to an ailing neighbor every morning during the final weeks of the man’s life. “We’d have just a piece of bread and butter and coffee with cream for dinner and still she insisted we take this man oatmeal every day. He lived a couple blocks down — we didn’t even know his name.” If the logic of giving when you don’t have much evaded the young man he was then, it’s a principle he admires now.

Sam’s humble roots originated in the small coal-mining town of Cokeburg, PA. “It was a five-street town,” he recalls. “Street A, Street B, C, D and E.” As a kid he excelled at sports, deeming himself the best young Jewish athlete in the area. His innate abilities led him to the first of many rewarding professional roles, this one as an athletic director at a kids’ camp in Maine. It was during this time that he met his wife, Carol, a Rumford, Maine native, who brushed off his appeal for her attention while she sat in a Howard Johnson’s booth dining with Estelle Jacobson Ostrove. Perhaps the swift kick Estelle gave her under the table can be credited for launching the 60 happy years Mr. and Mrs. Shapiro spent together thereafter.

Carol died in March 2013 but Sam’s devotion and reverence for her is still very much alive. It’s evident in the wedding band he still wears and in the inclusion of her name in the gifts they make together —him giving and always in her memory. It’s in this same spirit that he made his most recent generous gift in support of MaineGeneral’s Thayer Center for Health. This gift adds to his legacy of caring for the greater Kennebec Valley by investing in world-class heath care close to home. He has now supported every major capital campaign MaineGeneral has conducted. When asked why, he matter-of-factly says, “I believe in charity first. And the hospital is vital to the health of this region in more ways than one.”

Combine his deep-seated care-taking nature with his own personal history at Thayer, and this gift makes even more sense. “Our children were born there,” Sam says. “Jeffrey, our first, was 10 weeks early — weighed a pound and a half. He was in the hospital, wrapped in a bubble for weeks; they were worried about his eyes and his lungs. They didn’t think he’d make it. One day, though, he came out of the bubble and he didn’t go back in.”

With a beginning like that, it’s safe to say Jeffrey inherited his father’s fighting spirit and determination, as did Sam’s other two children, Susan and Eric. An engaging storyteller, Sam’s easy smile is paired with a mischievous, challenging eye. He’s never been one to turn down a fight, be it political or fist to fist, to stand up for what he believes. Given his time in the Navy and his 16-year tenure as state treasurer, he’s certainly had plenty of opportunities to do both. While holding his own in political banter and recruiting partners in crime for do-gooding, Sam never forgets his roots.

“My father was a peddler — he knew six languages and swore at me in three,” Sam says with affection. “I used to send my parents $5 - $10 every week. Then one day I put a check in the mail and the very next day I had one waiting for me from my father. He’d sold his truck and sent money to help pay for Jeffrey’s medical bills.”

Even now, years removed from the ache of an ailing child and pride in such supportive, benevolent parents, Sam wells with emotion as he shares his history. He’s worn many hats throughout his lifetime —admiring son, devoted husband, proud father, “best young Jewish athlete in town” (though Ted Shiro might disagree!) — and those rewarding roles have shaped him into another for which we are tremendously thankful: remarkable community care-taker for the greater Kennebec Valley.

MaineGeneral Health
Office of Philanthropy

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Augusta, ME  04330-8067
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Waterville, ME  04903

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