It is with gratitude for the life he shared with us, and sorrow for our loss,
that we announce the passing of Sam P. Wilburn Jr., at the age of 89. He
was a generous and loving husband, father, grandfather, and great-
grandfather who passed away peacefully, at his home in Hiawassee, GA, on
March 5 th with his wife of 67 years, at his side.
Sam was born on March 2, 1934 to Sam P. Wilburn and Anne McCollum
Wilburn. He and his two older sisters, Gene Wilburn Roper and Anne Wilburn
Richardson, lived in the small town of Woodbury, GA, where their father was
President of the Woodbury Bank. His father passed away, unexpectedly,
when Sam was twelve, and he took it upon himself to become the man of
the family, working part time, and summers, in the local peach packing
plant. After completing 11 th grade at Woodbury High School, he spent his
senior year at the Baylor School in Chattanooga, TN, a military boarding
school, which he recounted, had a big impact in broadening his horizons
both academically and culturally. From there he enrolled at The Citadel in
Charleston, SC for his freshman year of college, and then transferred to
Mercer University, where he graduated at the top of his ROTC unit and with
a double major in Economics and English.
While in high school, Sam met the love of his life, Anne Atkinson of
Greenville, GA. They dated in high school and college, and married in
August of 1955 at the Greenville Methodist Church.
In 1956, Sam entered the Army as a Lieutenant, and he and Anne spent his
two years of active duty stationed in Ludwigsburg, Germany. During his
leaves they enjoyed frequent travels around Europe, often in Sam’s
convertible Triumph sports car, and made a number of lifelong friends during
After his Army tour of duty ended, Anne and Sam moved to Atlanta where
Sam accepted a job with an Atlanta bank then known as Trust Company of
Georgia, later to become SunTrust, and now Truist Bank. He stayed with
this bank until his retirement in 1991. During those years, Sam served as
branch manager at several locations, and for a period worked with the
National division of the bank, traveling in the Northeast.
Anne and Sam also stayed busy raising their two children, Sam III and
Cynthia. Along with regularly attending his childrens’ school plays, sporting
events, and going on Boy Scout trips, Sam was also very committed to
helping an upstart Mt Vernon Baptist Church, to build and grow into a
permanent location. He served as a Deacon, a Sunday school teacher, and
Sunday school superintendent, putting his strong faith into action through
his leadership and his willingness to serve. Later he served as a Deacon at
the Wieuca Road Baptist Church in Atlanta. He was also very active in the
Rotary Club, serving as an officer and program chair, organizing and lining
up guest speakers for their meetings.
Sam was a big believer in transformative experiences in life, and valued
those over material possessions. To name a few: a good educational
experience, travel, and summer camp for children, were things that were
significant for him, and he was always promoting these types of things, and
striving to make them available, to his children, his extended family, and
anyone else he could reach. He was a very good steward of his finances and
was frugal with himself so that he could be generous with others.
These good steward qualities also allowed him to retire from the bank at age
57, so that he and Anne had many years of traveling the world and living life
on their own terms. Their home on Lake Chatuge served as base camp for
many years when their children and young grandchildren would come to
spend the summer at the lake.
His strong faith underpinned his steady, thoughtful, generous and loving
disposition. His family was fortunate to have many happy times and
wonderful memories made with him. He will be missed greatly, but his
memory will be a blessing to us all for the rest of our days.
Sam is survived by his wife Anne Wilburn, son Sam Wilburn III (Annie Bass),
daughter Cynthia Hendon (Charlie), grandchildren, Lindsay Sutcliffe (Mike),
Yates Wilburn (Molly), Merritt Wilburn, Elias Wilburn, Tanner Hendon (Katie),
Houston Hendon, McClain Hendon, and great granddaughter Eleanor
Funeral services will be held at McConnell Baptist Church in Hiawassee, GA
at 2 pm on Friday, March 17, 2023. Visitation at 1 pm, prior to the service.