Joseph Michael "Joe" Sampite'
|Mayor of Natchitoches|
Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana, USA
|Preceded by||Robert DeBlieux|
|Succeeded by||Wayne McCullen|
|Born||January 22, 1931|
New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
|Died||May 18, 2012 (aged 81)|
|Resting place||Memory Lawn Cemetery in Natchitoches, Louisiana|
|Spouse(s)||Widower of Hazel Barnes Sampite'|
|Children||Sharon Elizabeth Sampite' (deceased)|
|Alma mater||Northwestern State University|
|Branch/service||United States Air Force|
Joseph Michael Sampite (pronounced [dʒosɛf maɪkʌl sampiːtehː]), known as Joe Sampite (January 22, 1931 – May 18, 2012), was a Louisiana politician known for promotion of his adopted hometown of Natchitoches, of which he served as the mayor from 1980 to 2000.
A colorful figure, Sampite' wore white socks, a habit begun during his early days as a coach. He distributed "I Love Natchitoches" stickers by the thousands during his twenty years in municipal office and was instrumental in bringing the filming to Natchitoches of Dolly Parton's Steel Magnolias. Coincidentally, the year that Sampite graduated from Northwestern, another picture was filmed in Natchitoches, John Wayne's The Horse Soldiers.
In his first election as mayor in 1980, Sampite', a native of New Orleans, defeated the one-term incumbent Robert DeBlieux. As mayor, he expanded the city's fire and police departments and recreation program and directed major improvements in infrastructure and the Natchitoches airport.
As the president of the Louisiana Municipal Association from 1986 to 1987, he was the first recipient of that organization's President's Award. At the turn of the 21st century, the Shreveport Times named Sampite among its "Top 100 Influential People in Northwest Louisiana." In 2000, he was inducted into the Northwestern State University Hall of Distinction, or Long Purple Line, the highest designation for alumni. In 2002, he was named to the Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame in Winnfield.
Mayor Sampite' was profiled in The Oxford American literary magazine in an article entitled "No Ordinary Joe." He received numerous other honors, including "Man of the Year" awards from the Natchitoches Parish Chamber of Commerce, Natchitoches Junior Chamber International, and the Louisiana Parks and Recreation Association. He was a member of the American Legion, the group Founders of Natchitoches, and the Roman Catholic men's organization, the Knights of Columbus.
A Democrat, Sampite' did not seek reelection to a sixth term in the municipal election held in the spring of 2000. Two Democrats competed in the runoff election held on April 15 for the right to succeed Sampite. City council member at-large and current mayor, Wayne McCullen, narrowly defeated John Winston in the election, 3,026 (50.3 percent) to 2,962 (49.7 percent).
Sampite' sought a political comeback in the fall of 2007, but he was defeated in a competitive campaign by the Republican Rick Nowlin, a Natchitoches businessman, for the District 23 seat (then Natchitoches and Winn parishes) in the Louisiana House of Representatives. Nowlin polled 4,609 votes (55 percent) in the general election to Sampite's 3,766 (45 percent) In the primary on October 20, Nowlin led a four-candidate field with 4,849 votes (35 percent) to Sampite's 4,598 (33 percent). Two other Democrats, Ralph Wilson and Mack James, polled 2,847 (21 percent) and 1,459 (11 percent), respectively. Hence, Nowlin and Sampite' were thrust into the general election.
Death and legacy
Sampite' died in Natchitoches at the age of eighty-one. His services were held on May 22, 2012, at his home church, the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in downtown Natchitoches, with interment at Memory Lawn Cemetery.
Sampite' was preceded in death by his wife, the former Hazel Barnes, and a daughter, Sharon Elizabeth Sampite'. He was survived by a son, Chris Sampite' and wife Daphne Gray Sampite'; two daughters, Sheila Sampite' Hardin and her husband, Lieutenant Colonel Alan Hardin, and Michaela Marie Sampite'; two sisters, Sally S. Logan of Alexandria and Marielise Sampite' Brosset of Cloutiervillel; a brother, A. J. Sampite', Jr., of Hemet, California, and six grandchildren.
Mayor Wayne McCullen issued this statement on his predecessor's death:
"It is certainly a sad day for the citizens of Natchitoches and the state of Louisiana. Natchitoches has lost an icon with the passing of Mayor Joe Sampite'. He touched so many lives through his years of coaching and twenty years as mayor ... He was a mentor of mine as I served with him while I was city councilman at large. Our prayers certainly go out to his family. Mayor Sampite's legacy will live on forever in Natchitoches."
David West, the Northwestern State University news bureau director, described Sampite' as "a tireless advocate for Natchitoches and NSU. He loved NSU a lot. He was always available to speak to freshmen at our Freshman Connection and was a commencement speaker at one of our graduations. Mayor Sampite' was one of a kind." A "Joe Sampite Scholarship Fund" has been established at the Northwestern State University Foundation.
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- "Joe Sampite obituary". Shreveport Times. Retrieved May 20, 2012.
- "Personalities Along the Cane". natchitochestour.com. Archived from the original on November 16, 2012. Retrieved May 20, 2012.
- "Political Hall of Fame". lapoliticalmuseum.com. Retrieved May 20, 2012.
- "Natchitoches Parish election results, April 15, 2000". staticresults.sos.la.gov. Retrieved May 20, 2012.
- "Louisiana general election returns, November 17, 2007". staticresults.sos.la.gov. Retrieved May 20, 2012.
- "Primary election returns, October 20, 2007". staticresults.sos.la.gov. Retrieved May 20, 2012.
- "Former Natchitoches Mayor Joe Sampite' dies". Alexandria Daily Town Talk, May 18, 2012. Archived from the original on August 25, 2013. Retrieved May 20, 2012.
| Mayor of Natchitoches, Louisiana
Joseph Michael "Joe" Sampite
Dennis Sumpter of Sulphur
| President of the Louisiana Municipal Association
Joseph Michael "Joe" Sampite
Rod Prejean of Brusly
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