Art Samson runaway choice for Dundas Valley sports field honour
By Richard Leitner, Hamilton Community News
Some people simply suggested Art Samson. Others were more specific, proposing Art Samson Field or Art Samson Track.
Either way, the retired principal and councillor emerged as the runaway favourite in an online survey on naming Dundas Valley Secondary School’s new track and field after taking the top three spots among 10 suggested monikers.
It made the decision easy for Hamilton public school board trustees, who unanimously approved a volunteer naming committee’s recommendation to go with Art Samson Track and Field at their final meeting of the 2014-18 term.
Samson, 79, said he knew his name was up for consideration after reading a June story in the Dundas Star News on departing trustee Greg Van Geffen’s support for the recognition, but it’s still a surprise.
“I’m really flattered and honoured that they would do that for me because certainly it wasn’t in my expectations at all,” he said.
Van Geffen said he took a back seat on a naming committee that included representatives from the school’s parent council, students, staff and the community.
“The discussion wasn’t on other names — and I was fairly quiet during the discussion — it was on, “Well, how best should we name this (after) Mr. Samson?” he said.
A Dundas resident since 1971, Samson was an educator for 35 years, including as principal of Highland, where he coached football for seven years, and Parkside, the two high schools now merged into Dundas Valley.
Politically, he served 17 years as a Catholic school trustee, 12 years on the former Dundas town council and two years on Hamilton council after amalgamation.
His lengthy volunteering resumé includes founding and running a house basketball league at St. Augustine’s Church for 25 years, helping oversee the Routes for Youths drop-in centre and being a Big Brother.
The honour comes after a health scare in May when a hot day made Samson dizzy and he fell into a pit for melting snow at Harry Howell Arena while attending the Dundas Rotary Lobster and Ribfest.
He somehow avoided serious injury, but doctors at the hospital found a potentially lethal aneurysm in his aorta and he quickly agreed to surgery.
“Two miracles and I’m fine,” Samson said. “They fixed it and it’s wonderful.”