Edward Samuel Chapman
Edward Samuel Chapman, 60, of Bethel, died unexpectedly at his home that he shared with his fiancé Kathy Berberian on Elm Street, Sunday June 30. Better known as “Sammy,” he was born on Oct. 14, 1952 in Rumford, to the proud parents Frank and Ida Chapman.
Sammy was pre-deceased by both parents as well as his beloved nephew Vince Chapman. His surviving family members include his two children Hannah Chapman, 24, of Bethel and Brady Chapman, 26, of Bethel; his fiancé, Kathy Berberian of Bethel; as well as all of his six siblings.
Siblings include Betsy Ellis and her Husband Jerry of Neeces, S.C., Alan Chapman and his wife Louise of Greenwood, Tony Chapman and his wife Amy of Locke’s Mills, Howard Chapman and his wife Macky of Bethel, Kathryn Cimato and her husband John of Fort Myers, Fla., and Mary Ellen Chapman of Bethel.
Sammy had an interesting life to say the least. He truly was a multifaceted individual with many talents and abilities. Throughout his life he worked in the woods, climbed trees, and ran restaurants, but his true calling was always his music.
He started playing the ukulele at age six and soon moved on to the guitar. He eventually became skilled on several other instruments including the piano, harmonica, and the electric bass. Aside from having an exceptional musical ear he consistently nurtured his talent until the day he died, composing approximately 70 songs and recording about half of them. He was well known for his songwriting capabilities, and it has been said by many fellow musicians that it was one of his best creative attributes.
Covering many genres, he was also known in small circles for his beloved kids’ songs which he wrote for his children, nieces, nephews, and other young people. He had a wonderful way with kids and could always make them laugh, often time giving them silly nicknames. They loved him as much as he loved them.
Over the years Sammy played in many bands, starting in his youth and continuing into his 50s. It would be difficult to name them all but some include “The Convicts,” “Running Smooth,” “The Sammy Chapman Band,” “The Chapman York Farrar Trio,” “The No Tee-shirt Band,” and “Gold Fever,” which was a 1950s show band that toured the country playing venues as big as the MGM Grand in Reno, Nev.
One of his signature acts in Gold Fever was performing as a Hank Williams impersonator wearing a white suit and cowboy hat, and singing and playing Hank Williams tunes on acoustic guitar. He had a successful career on the road but would eventually return to Bethel where he met his future wife Sarah Shepley, the mother of his two children.
In Sammy’s later years, aside from being fully devoted to raising his two children, he enjoyed playing golf. He was a well-known golfer at the Bethel Inn Resort and was loved by many. He was known not only for his unique character but also for his competitive prowess. He prided himself on being “pretty good for a logger.” He also played a great deal of golf on Chapman Hill, a course that his father Frank built around 50 years ago. That is where he taught his children the game and engaged in many family golf events along with his father, siblings, family friends, as well as many local residents.
For a “rock star” Sammy was a very family oriented man. Of all his great accomplishments it could easily be said that his greatest was being the type of father that he was. He had an exceptionally close and loving relationship with both children and they could not be more proud to have called him “dad.” The three of them lived together for several years, and it is arguable that more laughter has never been shared by a father and his children. His legacy will surely live on with them.
In 2011 Sammy was lucky enough to meet a wonderful woman named Kathy who became the love his life. After asking her to marry him, they became engaged and shared happiness, love, and laughter for his remaining years.
Sammy will be deeply missed by his friends, family, and a great many others whose lives he touched. There is simply no measure for this man and what he brought to this world and the people that loved him.
There will be a Celebration of Life held for him Sunday, July 21 at the Bethel Inn Conference Center. There is no invitation needed. It will start at 2 p.m. when people will be able to get up and say a few words.
On behalf of Sammy’s life we want to encourage everyone to partake whether it is giving condolences, sharing memories, funny stories, or simply telling of a way in which he touched their life. After that there will be live music and plenty of food, drinks, and great people. Basically, the kind of party he would have liked. Hope to see you all there.