Sept. 3, 1929 – Oct. 24, 2021
Samuel Grier Gottlich (Sept. 3, 1929 – Oct. 24, 2021) was born in Corpus Christi, Texas to Samuel and Ruth Gottlich. Sam along with his siblings, Bobbi (Johnson), Bink, and Jimmy roamed the shores of Corpus Christi Bay and North Beach in search of adventure and fun and almost always found both.
While attending Del Mar College in Corpus Christi, Sam joined the Marines. He served for one tour, was Honorably Discharged in 1948 and then re-upped during the Korean War. He was again, Honorably Discharged as a sergeant in January 1952, and promptly joined his Father and brother, Bink, in the family business.
Prior to his service in the Marine Corp, Sam had fallen madly in love. Her name was Diane Prude. She saw him first and knew in her heart that “he’s the one for me!” They met while attending youth group at Good Shepherd Episcopal Church. He was captivated by her beauty, intelligence and humor. Four years later they married in April 1952 thus beginning a true love story, a journey together that spanned almost 70 years. His love and devotion to his beloved Diane was evident for all to see.
Sam and Diane, over the course of six years, had three children – Mark, David and Gayle. As a family, they first attended the Episcopal Church of the Incarnation and later joined All Saints’ Episcopal Church, where he was an active member; Lay Person, Vestry, Chair of the Building Committee and of course, leading the BBQ Team.
When Sam felt called to ordained ministry in 1964, the entire family joined him in that adventure. They moved to Alexandria, Virginia for three years, leaving behind a social and professional network that had sustained and defined him. Seminary was challenging and offered new and wider perspectives. The family enjoyed exploring the beautiful and historic area. Through it all he was resolute in his provision for his family and at one time worked three part-time jobs in addition to his studies.
Upon his graduation from Virginia Theological Seminary in 1967, Sam, Diane and the children returned to Texas to take up his new role in ordained ministry. His career as a priest began at St. John’s Episcopal Church in McAllen, Texas. In 1968 he was called to be Rector of St. Andrew’s in Seguin, Texas where he served for almost six years. In 1973, Sam was called to be Rector at St. Bartholomew’s in Corpus Christi where he served for 17 years. True to form, Sam didn’t mind stepping into a challenge and 1989 at the age of 60 he left the parish ministry to take a position at Guadalupe County Hospital to head up their pastoral care team.
Early in his career it was evident that he had a gift for touching the lives of young people. He’d talk about boogers in his sermons — that got their attention! Sam’s “work” with high schoolers at Camp Capers is legendary. The seeds planted by his generous and inclusive theology have matured and been shared with subsequent generations. Decades later it was not unusual for Sam to receive Christmas cards or notes from “campers” now in their sixties offering their love and gratitude for his wise counsel during their turbulent teen years.
A gifted pastoral counselor, preacher and teacher, Sam touched the lives of many. His breakfast Bible studies always gathered a crowd though it is unclear whether it was the teaching or the breakfast, Sam’s Slop, that made them so popular. Everywhere he served he did so with enthusiasm, innovation, bold vision, compassion, and steadfast presence.
He was a servant leader of the highest caliber and knew what needed to be done, knew how to gather people to get it done, and took care of them while they were getting it done. All these spiritual gifts bore much fruit during, not just his career, but for his entire life, right up to his last hours.
Sam and Diane returned to Corpus Christi in 2011 and became residents of the Mirador Retirement Community. There they were joined with many dear, old friends as well as finding many new friends. He would often remark how fun it was to hear all the new stories. He was immersed in the life of the community and helped to establish a scholarship fund for the many young people who worked there. Even in retirement he continued his life as a priest saying, “I can’t help it, it’s who I am.”
He loved mightily his precious Diane, his children, their spouses, his grandchildren and great grandchildren, his siblings and nieces and nephews and their children. That alone is a long list. But the thousands of lives touched by him are the true testament of his life. Sam would challenge you to love with all your heart and understand that you will do so imperfectly and that is okay. He would offer two other favorite quotes “Seek the truth, come whence it may, cost what it will” and from Julian of Norwich, “all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.” And it is well with our beloved Sam because he is embraced now and forever in a tremendous love. And so are you.
A memorial service celebrating the life of Samuel Grier Gottlich will be held at All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Corpus Christi, Saturday, November 27, at 10:30 am. The service will be streamed live for those unable to attend in person. Sam was a practical man and requested that no flowers, other than those on the altar, be sent. Rather, offer your gift in honor of his life and to the glory of God to:
The Episcopal Diocese of West Texas
PO Box 6885
San Antonio, TX 78209
“For use of Camp Capers”