Readers of the Letters to the Editor section of the Portland Press Herald have recently lost a good friend. This morning, I attended a memorial service for Sam Kamin at the Allen Avenue Unitarian Universalist Church.

Many years ago, I worked with Sam when he was the treasurer and I was the president of our church, and I thought I knew Sam. But, as happens too often, we don’t really know someone until after they have passed on.

Like all your readers, I knew that Sam was a model for anyone who sought justice and a peaceful world. I knew that he had been on kidney dialysis for almost 10 years, and that, only a year ago, he’d lost his wife of 62 years, Phyllis, who had been his principal caregiver.

What I learned this morning was about his success in overcoming some early difficulties, including anti-Semitism. We learned about his total devotion to his family.

One after another, his sister, his children and his grandchildren rose up, trying to control their emotions, and told us how much he meant to them. Their stories told us of simple, but so important times, such as “going fishing with Pappa.”

But their stories also reached deep into our hearts as they told how he was always their champion. “You can do anything you want to do,” he told them. He said, “Mamma would have been proud” when he also meant, “I am proud of you.”

He has left us with his inspiration to fight the good fight, to love unsparingly, to look forward with a smile – a big Sam smile. I’ll hold Sam in my love, and never let go.

Sally Breen