Samuel Max Wahlfeldt passed away peacefully on Monday, May 3, 2021, after a courageous 8-year recovery fight following a stroke. He lived a life of 90 years that was filled with family, friends, laughter, story-telling, music, socializing, curiosity, and joy. He remained a sweet, funny and kind soul to the very end, capping off a lifetime of community involvement, serving as a mentor, and sharing his love of history both personally and professionally. He loved, and he was loved by many.
His daughter, Virginia “Ginny” Niles, was at Sam’s side at the Someren Glen Senior Living Community in Centennial when he joined the Lord, where he was reunited with his first wife, Lila (Schoonover) Wahlfeldt (deceased 1987), and his second wife, Phyllis (Allsup) Wahlfeldt (deceased 2012). He also was preceded in death by his sister Sara Owens (2020), his nephew David Owens (2002), and his grandson Collin Wahlfeldt-Rowley (2016).
He is survived by his children, Wynnie Jo Wahlfeldt (Mike Lemmert) of Aurora, CO, Stephen Neal (Mimi) Wahlfeldt, of Fort Collins, CO, and Virginia Ann (Chris) Niles of Parker, CO, plus his second family of step-children: Jay (Debi) Allsup of Chaska, MN, and Janet Allsup of Lafayette, CO. Additionally, he is survived by his brother-in-law Robert Owens and nephew Rick (Sheila) Owens, all of Indianapolis, IN; his grandchildren Megan Wahlfeldt of Loveland, CO, Trent (Tahlia) Wahlfeldt of Denver, CO, and Shayla Wahlfeldt-Rowley of Austin, TX, as well as several welcomed grandchildren through marriage: Elaina Trousil (Tray Renfro) and Adam Trousil of Windsor, CO, and Brittni (Ryan) Kutsch of Phoenix, AZ, and Makenzie Allsup of Hermitage, TN. Just before his passing, Sam was also informed of the birth of his new great-grandson, Theo Atlas Wahlfeldt, who was born on April 21.
Sam was born on November 1, 1930, in Danville, IL, to Max and Leota Wahlfeldt. His family expanded two years later to welcome sister Sara. He graduated from Danville High School in 1948, where he participated in theater and debate among other activities. Targeting a career in education, Sam earned three degrees during his life: a Bachelor of Science in Education from Illinois State University (1953) for which he received a full-ride scholarship, a Master of Education from the University of Colorado (1957), and a Doctor of Education from the University of Northern Colorado (1967). His passion for education was especially impressive considering his own parents were unable to complete schooling past the fifth grade.
At Illinois State, Sam met his first wife, Lila, and they married in 1954. Following teaching stints in Illinois and New Jersey, the couple moved permanently to Fort Collins, in 1958, in part because they had traveled to Colorado several times on vacation and fallen in love with the area. Over the next six years, Sam and Lila were blessed with three children: daughter Wynnie Jo (born in 1959), son Stephen Neal (1961), and daughter Virginia (Ginny) Ann (1964). He loved his children dearly, and he was an early “modern spouse” in that he helped with the dishes, ironed his own shirts, attended all of his children’s conferences and school events, and assisted the kids with their homework - often helping them brainstorm interesting topics for school papers or projects. He was always involved in his children’s lives and knew who their friends were. In an effort to supplement the children’s education, Sam shared his love of history by turning family vacations into teaching opportunities. He often targeted summer trips to places like Mount Rushmore, the Amish Country, Washington, D.C., Yellowstone, Williamsburg, Civil and Revolutionary war battle sites, the U.S. Air Force Academy, and the International Exposition on the Environment in Spokane, WA, in 1974. Personally, Sam’s idea of leisure time usually involved reading American Heritage magazines or thick history books - sometimes while sitting in a rocking chair with a pipe and/or a beer. In fact, Sam was often heard saying, “All beer/wine is good. Some is just better than others.”
Other favorite pastimes included learning about the history of automobiles and the various models developed over the decades - he preferred Chrysler products. His children have great memories of family vacations taken in their white Dodge station wagon and later a large yellow V-8 Chrysler. In his later years, he enjoyed attending car shows with his kids and regaling them with stories of classic cars from bygone eras. He also volunteered as an election official in Boulder County, in a neutral capacity, assisting voters at the polls. This activity was fueled by his love of this country and the rights bestowed on all of its people. Sam enjoyed following the Rockies, taking walks around Boulder, giving attention to the various kitties he shared his home with over the years, and hosting ice cream socials for his neighbors. Additionally, every Valentine’s Day, Sam made it a priority to send cards to his kids and grand kids that were funneled through Loveland, CO, to ensure that the city’s special love-focused stamp accompanied his annual correspondence.
Sam began his 31-year career in education as a guidance counselor at Fort Collins High School. He advanced in the Poudre School District to the position of Head of Guidance before finishing his career as a counselor at Boltz Junior High School, retiring in 1989. His favorite part of working in education was directly interacting with students. He enjoyed their openness and enthusiastic outlook on life; he found that endearing, and he had lots of patience for adolescents, in general. During his extensive career in education, Sam touched thousands of lives (students, teachers, and parents), with many remembering his positive impact to this day.
Sam lost Lila in 1987 after her battle with cancer; he later reconnected with a former friend, Phyllis Allsup, also widowed. The couple married on Valentine’s Day, 1988, and moved to Boulder where they enjoyed many common interests, including travel, playing cards and Bingo (weekly trips to Black Hawk), and staying active in their church. Over the decades of their marriage, Sam and Phyllis traveled the country, visiting 48 of the 50 states; they also experienced several international trips which included cruises to Central and South America, the Caribbean, the Rhine River, and visiting other locations in Europe.
Throughout his life, Sam was passionate about music - singing in choirs, reading about its history, and especially playing the piano. If he saw a piano, he often sat down and played it. Sam was a self-taught piano player, having read a book explaining how to play and “then that was it.” He never had any lessons and played by ear. Although he could read music, he did not really need it. He had a huge repertoire that included thousands of songs ranging from ethnic folk and patriotic songs to Gershwin and Berlin. Later in life, after retirement, he taught himself to play the organ, as well, and would often be the featured performer at regional senior living facilities, much to the delight of the residents.
His love of music connected to his wholehearted involvement with his church and the Elks organization. While in Fort Collins, Sam was a dedicated member of St. John’s Lutheran Church, where he sang in the choir and participated in various church groups. He later became a member of the Trinity Lutheran Church in Boulder, passionately participating in the choir and other groups until his stroke in 2013. His involvement with the Elks (chapter 804) began in Fort Collins, a membership he transferred to Boulder (chapter 566) when he moved there in 1989. In the Boulder Elks, he served as Scholarship Committee chair and Americanism chair, as well as soloist and organist. As Americanism chair of Elks 566, Sam was able to show off his talent as a writer, which was borne from his love of reading and education. He drew on his extensive library of non-fiction books and from his curiosity of history and wrote entertaining pieces for their newsletter - all filled with historical tidbits and nostalgia.
As a common passion through the years, Sam enjoyed playing cards with friends and family. Evenings at the Wahlfeldt house were often filled with card tables packed with friends, all laughing and telling stories, all caring about the sharing of moments and the fraternity of being together. In the middle of it, and after receiving a fresh deal, Sam would often say with a big smile and chuckle, “This hand is more like a foot.” And the play would begin again.
Sam’s family would like to thank the following: Jaimy Wahab, physical therapist, for her expertise and energy in helping our father recover from his stroke; Compassus Hospice for their love and compassion during our dad's last years; Someren Glen Christian Living Community for providing a community of love and support for Sam through the years. Also, any memorial contributions made in Sam’s honor should be directed to his favorite organizations: Someren Glen’s music/entertainment program, 5000 E. Arapahoe Rd., Centennial, CO. 80122 and the Elks club of either Fort Collins,1424 Mulberry St., Fort Collins, CO. 80524, or Boulder. A Memorial service will be held Tuesday, May 25th at 11:00 am, with a viewing at 10:00 am at Boulder Elks Lodge,3975 28th Ave., Boulder, CO., followed by a luncheon at 12:00 pm, and Burial at 1:30 pm at Mountain View Memorial Park, 3016 Kalmia Ave, Boulder, CO.
Live streaming at https://fb.me/e/2cpH0InqD