Samuel Byron Gee, 81, died Dec. 10 at home in Washington, Indiana.
Sam met his cherished wife of 59 years, Joyce, when they were in junior high school. He started on a Big Ten-winning Indiana University basketball team; served as a pilot in the Army; worked internationally in the oil industry; raised four children; was an idol to his grandchildren; and will live on in the treasured memories of his family and friends.
Sam was born on May 23, 1936, to William and Callie Gee in Elnora, Indiana. He graduated from Washington High School in 1954. He attended Indiana University on a basketball scholarship and was a member of teams that won back-to-back Big Ten championships in the 1956-57 and 1957-58 seasons.
Sam received little playing time in his early seasons. (He often joked that when friends attended games and chanted, "We want Gee!" Coach Branch McCracken would respond by telling Sam to get up in the stands where someone apparently wanted him.) As a senior, though, Sam became a key member of the 1957-58 squad after the Hoosiers struggled to a 1-6 start in defense of their conference championship.
As recounted by Jason Hiner in "Indiana University Basketball Encyclopedia," McCracken gave Sam a shot in the Big Ten opener against Northwestern. Per Hiner, Sam "played the rest of the game and did a solid job of handling the ball and keeping the offense moving as the Hoosiers defeated the Wildcats 68-65 in Bloomington. Gee quickly earned the starting spot and never relinquished it."
Sam went on to score 167 points, shooting 89 percent from the free-throw line, and grab 50 rebounds that season as the Hoosiers corrected course and kept their Big Ten crown.
Sam wed Joyce McDuffee on June 15, 1958, and began a marriage marked by enduring love and great adventure.
Sam joined the U.S. Army after graduating IU, serving as a pilot from 1958 to 1962 and achieving the rank of second lieutenant. He was stationed in Newport News, Virginia, San Marcos, Texas where twin sons Grant and Greg were born and then New Orleans, where daughter Susan was born.
At the conclusion of his Army service, Sam took a job with the newly established Marathon Oil Co., which saw the family move around the U.S. and Europe, including stints in Geneva, Switzerland, and Rome.
The Gees returned stateside and daughter Jennifer was born in Indianapolis. Sam and Joyce ultimately settled back home again in Washington, where Sam's Gee Management Co. leased properties and developed hotels, including the Baymont Inn & Suites in Washington, which remained under his and grandson Joris's management until its sale this year.
Sam remained an avid lifelong fan of Indiana University athletics, and could often be seen cruising the country roads of Daviess County on his motorcycle.
Sam is survived by his wife, Joyce Gee, of Washington; son Grant and Julie Gee of Carmi, Illinois; son Greg and Sally Gee of Evansville, Indiana; daughter Susan and Bill Mills of Fairhope, Alabama; daughter Jennifer Gee of Washington, Indiana; 11 grandchildren, Joris Gee, Brandon Gee, Aaron Dicks, Cassie Backstedt, Samantha Sisco, Mallory Gee, Danny Mills, Madelyn Gee, Allison Mills, Andrew Cusick, Callie Cusick; five great-grandchildren, Grady Sisco, Silar Gee, Zane Sisco, Fisher Sisco, and Harrison Gee; a brother, Bill and Lynn Gee of Plymouth, Indiana; and a sister, Anna Ruth and Ed Walsh, of Sun City West, Arizona.
Sam is preceded in death by his parents.
Arrangements are being made by Gill Funeral Service. Visitation will be 4-8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 14 and 12-1 p.m. Friday, Dec. 15, at Christ United Methodist Church, 104 N. Meridian St., Washington, IN 47501. Funeral services will follow at 1 p.m. Friday. Interment will be at Sugarland Memorial Gardens, with military graveside rites.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made Christ United Methodist Church in Washington.
Published on December 12, 2017