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A t-shirt hung in the window of Pat’s Barber Shop in Radnor Township, Pa., in late August. Peter Samson’s face was printed on the shirt, with one word.


“He’s probably the most popular person that I could imagine in all my years of covering Philadelphia,” said founder and editor Chris Goldberg. “I don’t know that anyone was more well-liked than him.”

Samson died tragically Aug. 17 in a bicycle accident in New England. The 68-year-old was recognized for his bountiful contributions to the lacrosse community and celebrated for his unseen benevolence.

“He was just beloved,” said Scott Growney, president emeritus of the Eastern Pennsylvania Chapter/Philadelphia Lacrosse Association. “He was a great person. A great friend. A great father. A great coach. A great organizer. He’s going to be so missed. He leaves such a void.”

Samson founded Radnor Youth Lacrosse nearly 30 years ago. It became the foundation for the Radnor High School powerhouse.

“So many in Radnor feel that they lost a family member,” Growney said.

Samson stepped away from coaching in 2018, but missed it so much that he returned this year. His A1 team won a SEPYLA title months before his passing. Last year he enjoyed assistant coaching at the high school level for the first time and helped Radnor High make the state semifinals.

“It’s not a big town,” said Radnor head coach John Begier. “There’s always been a strong sense of community. What he did with lacrosse in the town was a big part of creating that sense of community.”

Samson also oversaw the nation’s largest one-day high school tournament, the Katie Samson Lacrosse Festival, that was named for his daughter, who was paralyzed in a sledding accident in 2000. The KSLF enters its 20th year having raised more than $2 million for spinal cord research and rehabilitation programs.

“The funding that we were collecting was actually going towards people that loved and played sports their whole life, and because of their disability those resources weren’t made available,” Katie Samson said. “He was trying to really educate kids what the festival was about. He was really proud of that transition we had made as a foundation about 10 years ago.”

Samson was inducted into the Eastern Pennsylvania Chapter Hall of Fame in 2017. He received national commendation with the Founders Circle Award at the 2009 US Lacrosse Convention.

“No one person could do what he did,” Begier said.

Samson reserved and lined fields, made sure every team had balls and scheduled games, but he also took kids to breakfast or just sent them notes of encouragement. He always looked out for the underdog, and let it be known he was there for any current or former player in trouble.

“He was a very playful person and competitive,” Katie Samson said, “but it was more important to him that any kid he interacted with would come away from an experience with him feeling better about themselves.”

Samson introduced kids from an underprivileged section of Radnor to lacrosse, and outfitted them with equipment from his garage while his wife served milk and cookies. He also practiced law in the Philadelphia area for 43 years, focusing on pro bono cases in recent years.

“Any time he called me up, it wasn’t for help,” said Mike Buono, the former Villanova star who assisted the Radnor A1 team. “It was for me to help him help someone.”

“Peter is irreplaceable and his impact is immeasurable,” Growney said.

Said Katie Samson: “As his kids and part of his family, he was our greatest supporter. He taught us a lot about how to lead, live, love. That’s his greatest legacy to us in the family.”