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Pinedale Online > News > November 2019 > Obituary – J.D ‘Sam’ Drucker

J.D. 'Sam' Drucker. Photo by .
J.D. 'Sam' Drucker
Obituary – J.D ‘Sam’ Drucker
November 25, 2019

Born on November 17, 1952, in Kansas City, James Douglas "Sam" Drucker was adopted by Donald Kenneth and Jeanne Bellis Drucker and began his life in Missouri. Growing up James enjoyed fishing with granddad Bart Bellis, visiting his grandparents’ Wheatland, Wyoming farm, riding horses, hunging arrowheads, playing the saxophone, and spending time with his family. After Sam and his family moved to Kearny, NE, he performed as the lead singer in a band, "Bittersweet Conspiracy" and also received the nickname "Sam Drucker" after the lovable grocer in the sitcom "Green Acres". In 1971, his family returned to Wheatland and Sam enrolled at the University of Wyoming. Working as a surveyor for Banner and Associates, Sam found he had a knack for spotting artifacts which led to discussions of these finds with UW archeologists. In 1992, Sam re-entered college and earned a Bachelor of Arts and Masters of Arts in Anthropology, specializing in Archaeology.

In 1997, Sam started his career with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), working as an archaeologist in Lander; then in 199, as a cartographer in the Cheyenne BLM office. He left the BLM for a Sheridan cultural resource management firm; returning in 2004 as an archaeologist in the Pinedale BLM office. Though Sam’s professional accomplishments are too numerous to list, he was most proud of his work on the Wardell Buffalo Trap, Holden Hill Inscription Site, Jerry Hunt Pictography Site, Sommers Medicine Wheel, and the Lander Trail New Fork River Crossing Historical Park. As a result of his respectful relationships with the Western Shoshone, Shoshone-Bannock, Northern Arapaho, and Ute Tribal Preservation Officers and Tribal Elders, he was asked to document an Indian burial ground in Sublette County. He was recognized by multiple historical organizations, including receiving a Distinguished Service Award from the Oregon-California Trail Association. Sam’s professionalism and passion resulted in his designation by the BLM as a "National Heritage Hero" in 2019.

Sam freely shared his professional expertise through his volunteer work on the Board of Trustees for the Sublette County Historical Society and Museum of the Mountain Man. He served eight years, including President for his last two years. Sam founded the Upper Green River Basin Chapter of the Wyoming Archaeological Society (WAS) and assisted in projects of the Sublette County Historic Preservation Board, Wyoming History Foundation, and Green River Valley Museum. A member of the Upper Green River Chapter of Trout Unlimited and fly fisherman extraordinaire, Sam worked to protect cold water fish habitats, tied trout enticing lures, and taught younger anglers the skill of fly tying.

In 1982, Sam married Ellen Kay White and her 2 year old daughter Evonne became the light of his life. On November 17, 1984, daughter Chelsea Claire joined the family. Ellen and Sam divorced in 1999, but remained committed to raising their daughters with warmth and kindness. Having the same birthday was just one of many special bonds between Chelsea and Sam as was their love of archaeology and history. They were lifelong best friends and Chelsea was his caretaker to the end. Sam’s nieces, Katelynn and Katherine grew up with frequent visits from their "Unc Sam" and cherished their wonderful relationship throughout his lifetime.

Sam passed away peacefully on November 6, 2019 at St. John’s Hospital in Jackson Hole, WY surrounded by his family and friends. One of the last things that Sam said was to "Look for him in the Smiles." With his humorous outlook and kind nature, Sam made friends throughout Wyoming and the nation. He is survived by daughters Chelsea Drucker of Denver, CO, and Evonne Shirzadegan with granddaughter Akacia Horsley of Flagstaff, AZ, sister Katie and her husband, Howard Johnson and two nieces Katherine Johnson and Katelynn Blasi and husband, Austin Blasi of Colorado.

Pinedale Online > News > November 2019 > Obituary – J.D ‘Sam’ Drucker

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