Samuel Woodson Root, a longtime Jacksonville physician, died at his Avondale home on March 19, 2019. Only a month earlier he had celebrated his 100th birthday with family and friends.
Sam Root was born on February 13, 1919, in Kansas City, MO, the son of Barbara Woodson and Thomas Root. He and his older brother, Thomas, grew up in Kansas City and later lived in upper Michigan, where their mother managed a camp for girls. Eventually they moved to Ann Arbor, MI, where the boys attended the University of Michigan. There Sam earned a degree in chemistry and went on to attend medical school. He became a physician in the U.S. Army Medical Corps, treating soldiers in France during World War II.
At a dance in St-Jean-de-Luz, Sam met Carol Beach, originally from Hartford, CT, whom he married six months later. With their newborn son they moved to Grand Rapids, MI, where Sam finished his medical training, then to Oak Ridge, TN, where he broke ground in the new field of Nuclear Medicine.
In 1953, following his great friend and former Michigan classmate Dekle Taylor, Sam moved his growing family to Jacksonville, FL and opened his private practice. Throughout the years he was appreciated by patients and colleagues alike for his diagnostic acumen, his willingness to make home visits and his compassion.
An avid reader, Sam devoured medical journals, books of all kinds and the New York Times. Known for his great sense of humor, humility and open-mindedness, Sam was adored by many, not the least by his family, who lovingly called him “Papa” or “Bon-Papa.” After his retirement Carol and Sam enjoyed traveling together, listening to music and visiting their five children and their families in California, New Mexico, Michigan and New York. After 53 years of marriage, Carol passed away in 1999.
Sam was a competitive tennis player into his early nineties. His later years were blessed by the company of a close circle of friends, including his dear companion Evelyn Nehl until her death in 2011. After a sudden illness in 2014 and a stint in hospice, he was able to remain at home thanks to the the devotion of his caregiver Avis fields, longtime friend Caroline Powell and dear neighbors, the Pecks.
He was the last surviving member of the University of Michigan Medical School’s class of 1943. As he told his good friend Roger Martin, he “wanted to stick around and find out how it all turned out,” which he managed to do for a good 100 years.
He is survived and will be dearly missed by his children Mark (Lynn Sharrock), Christopher (Mary Portser), Thomas, Lauren (James McCormick), and Mary Anne, and grandchildren Chloe Root, Nicholas Taucher (Hanifa Harris), and Barnaby Root (Corin Beier).