Sam James Chelemes

October 29, 1925 - January 21, 2021

Sam James Chelemes, adoring husband, devoted son, amazing father, wonderful papou, loyal brother, and dear friend, passed away on January 21, 2021 in Salt Lake City, Utah. 

Sam was born to James Spelios and Demetro Pappafotopoulos Chelemes on October 29, 1925, at home, in a three-room house on the family farm in Clearfield, Utah.  

Sam grew up helping his parents plant and harvest farm produce and crops.  Sam’s amazing work ethic, which began at the tender age of eight and continued throughout his life, developed when he started working for his neighbors raking hay, using his father’s horse and rake. He earned $1.25 for ten hours’ work. 

Sam attended Pioneer Elementary, North Davis Junior High, Davis High School (where he was a state champion wrestler in his weight class), Weber College, and completed correspondence courses in Architecture. 

As a young man, Sam worked part time at Woods Cross Canning Company and Layton Sugar Factory.   

Sam was employed at the Naval Supply Depot, Bureau of Reclamation, Hill Air Force Base, where he worked in several positions and retired after 34 years. Sam also owned and operated a Commercial and Residential Design Service and he designed many homes and buildings throughout Northern Utah. 

Sam took great pride in doing a job right the first time. He enjoyed teaching others that it was best to do it correctly the first time, rather than having to do it over a second time. 

Even though he spent considerable time pursuing other interests, Sam always, proudly, considered himself to be a farmer first. Sam and his brother Chris owned and operated over 160 acres of farmland in Clearfield and Layton raising all types of produce, hay, and grain. Always striving to improve, Sam liked to try new ideas and designed equipment to increase production on the farm. Planting seeds, watching them grow, and harvesting them was one of his greatest joys.  Sam truly loved farming, working his land and baling hay until he was 87 years old.

Sam was married to the late Alice Lambrose in 1945.  They had four children and later divorced. 

Sam met Elsie Marganis, the love of his life, when they both played in the Greek Bowling League at Paldamor Bowling Lanes.  They were married in 1961 at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Salt Lake City and had one son. Sam and Elsie enjoyed 58 years of loving, caring, and sharing with each other. 

Sam enjoyed discussing politics and current events and had a love of travel which he shared with his family.

Sam was a devoted member of the Greek Orthodox faith. Throughout his life, Sam volunteered at community events such as the Salt Lake Greek Festival and the annual Thanksgiving Dinner. Sam was a member of Athanasios Diakos and Panahaikos Society. He was a founding member of the Hellenic Cultural Association and he served on the Holy Trinity Restoration Committee. Sam served on the Parish Council of the Greek Orthodox Church of Greater Salt Lake for many years and was elected President in 1991 and 1992.  The highlight of his Presidency was meeting Patriarch Bartholomew I and attending his enthronement in 1991. Sam was awarded the Pillar of Faith and Service Award recognizing his lifetime of commitment and dedication to the Greek Community. Sam was a man of great character.  His humility, integrity, intelligence, and kindness will be missed by everyone who was lucky enough to know him.

Sam is survived by his children:  Darlene (Thomas) Godfrey, St. Simons Island, GA; Kathleen (William) Bonshire, Snellville, GA; Juli Christensen, Clearfield, UT; James (Linda) Chelemes, Clinton, UT; and Basil (Joni) Chelemes, Salt Lake City, UT. He had six grandchildren and twelve great-grandchildren. Sam was preceded in death by his parents, his wife Elsie, his brothers Nick (who died in infancy) and Chris, and numerous family members in Greece. 

Private funeral service will be on Saturday, January 30th at Holy Trinity Cathedral at 12:00 pm. Those wishing to attend virtually may view the services by returning to this page and selecting the “Watch Service” button which will appear above prior to the beginning of the service. Services will remain on this website for all to view at anytime.

All are welcome for the Trisagion and Interment at Mount Olivet Cemetery, 1342 East 500 South, Salt Lake City.  Please wear a mask and social distance appropriately.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Sam’s memory to Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral, 279 South 300 West, Salt Lake City, Utah 84101 or Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Church, 674 42nd Street, Ogden, Utah 84403 or a charity of your choice.

May his memory be eternal.