The funeral procession of silent flashing blue lights taking Cheraw Police Cpt. Sam Lee to his final resting place stopped traffic on S.C. Highway 9 from Cheraw Family Worship Center to Chatham Hill Memorial Gardens.
A 30-year veteran of the force, Lee died last Tuesday after suffering from a massive heart attack.
Lee was pressure washing a home on Third Street in Cheraw with his wife of 13 years when his fatal heart attack struck.
“He was doing one of the things he loved most when he died,” Lee's wife, Jenny, said. “We started that pressure washing business in 1993 as just a way of making some more money for our family, but it was something that he and I both enjoyed doing, and we had a good time doing it together.”
Lee was always aware there was no money in law enforcement, a point he tried to stress to his son David.
“Up until I was about 16, Daddy would always make it a point to tell me to get a good job where I could make some money,” David Lee said. “Once I turned 16, though, he told me I was a grown-up and had to make my own grown-up decisions.”
David's grown-up decision was to go into law enforcement. He has been a deputy with the Chesterfield County Sheriff's Department for eight years.
“He was proud of me and my decision,” David said. “He just didn't want me to be poor.”
The older Lee's first career choice was to join the military, but a hunting accident at the age of 17 cost him vision in his left eye. The Army told him he was not fit to fight in Vietnam.
Instead, Lee became an auxiliary officer with the Sanford Police Department in Florida.
“That's where it all started,” Jenny said. “Sanford wouldn't hire him full time, but they did allow him to be kind of like a reserve officer.”
He was soon noticed by the Lake Mary, Fla., Police Department and offered a full-time job. From there, he kept moving up.
After spending the mid-to-late '70s working at Lake Mary, Lee soon got a job offer from the Sheriff's Department in Fairfield County, where he had lived as a child.
Lee accepted the offer to return to South Carolina but soon began moving around, from the Lancaster County Sheriff's Department to the Pageland Police Department to the Cheraw Police Department.
For more information on this story, please read the October 27, 2005 edition of the Cheraw Chronicle/Chesterfield Advertiser.