Professor Emeritus Wilfred D. Samuels passed away peacefully on Monday, February 3, 2020 at his home in Murray, Utah.
Pepie, as he was affectionately known, was born in Puerto Limon, Costa Rica to Lena and Noel Samuels on February 7, 1946. His mother and several of his siblings immigrated to the United States of America via Los Angeles, in July of 1958. From there, Professor Samuels would go on to earn his B.A. degree in English and Black Studies at the University of California, Riverside. Soon after, he received a M.A. degree in American Studies and African-American Studies followed by a Ph.D. in American Studies and African-American Studies from the University of Iowa. He then taught at the University of California, Los Angeles (U.C.L.A.), the University of Colorado and Prairie View A&M before accepting a one year visiting appointment at the University of Utah in 1987. Dr. Wilfred Samuels remained at the University of Utah until he retired 32 years later.
During the three plus decades he was at “the U,” Professor Samuels compiled an outstanding record in all three areas of academic life. He was: a) an exceptional researcher—most known for his work on Equiano, Toni Morrison, John Edgar Wideman and Maya Angelou—as evident by his scholarly publications in the form of articles, essays and books; b) a gifted teacher as indicated by his selection of teaching awards in the College of Humanities and receipt of both the University of Utah Distinguished Teaching Award and the Students Choice Distinguished Teaching Award and c) a servant leader with an outstanding record of service to professional and community organizations. Professor Samuels received global recognition and countless awards for his life’s work and the many contributions he made to enrich the intellectual and cultural awareness of Utahns at all levels. From Utah and the rest of the United States to China, India and Africa, Professor Samuels’ impact was felt.
Pepie was a family man and is survived by his best friend and loyal companion: Alegria (his dog); his siblings: Joise Daley, Noel Samuels and Ian Samuels; his sons and their wives: Michael & Kim Samuels and Detavio & Tanya Samuels; his former wife and friend: Barbara Samuels; his grandchildren: Tanner and Bryanna Samuels; his nieces and nephews: Omar Samuels, Rhomel Samuels, Dean Ricketts, Radley Ricketts, Kyan Crooks, Kresan Crooks and Kimone Crooks; his companion in the end: Vivian Story; as well as Calvary Baptist Church and the many, many sons and daughters he adopted along the way.
Friends are invited to a memorial service on Friday, February 7, 2020 at 12:00 Noon at Calvary Baptist Church, 1090 South State, Salt Lake City.
We are extraordinarily grateful for the time God lent him to us and will focus our time on celebrating his life because we know “precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.”