“He influenced so many people’s lives,” said daughter Kristi Lisech of Stafford, Va.
Life did not get off to an easy start, though. Sam was the youngest of seven children and named for his father, Millard Harry Rock.
When he was 2, Sam and his mother both were diagnosed with tuberculosis and sent to a sanitarium.
His mother died at the sanitarium, and Sam was treated there until he was 4. Then, he and a couple of his sisters went to live at the Milton Wright Home near Greencastle, Pa.
Sam recalls his father coming to visit the orphanage once. His father died in a car accident when Sam was 13.
It was at the orphanage that Sam was introduced to several things that would become his passions — Christ and fly-fishing.
His oldest brother, John Rock, would go to the orphanage and take Sam fly-fishing, which is where he developed his love for the sport.
The nickname “Sam” developed in high school. The story he told his family was that he got in trouble with a substitute teacher one day, and when he was asked his name, Millard said “Sam Jones.”
When presented to the principal as “Sam Jones,” even the principal couldn’t help but laugh. Millard was known as Sam from then on.
Sam graduated from Greencastle-Antrim High School in 1957. One of his sisters, a registered nurse, paid for him to go to barber school in Philadelphia.
Before Sam settled down and established his own barbershop, he and a friend twice hitchhiked out to California, where Sam did some modeling and worked as a barber in Hollywood for several years. He also worked in New Orleans and as a crew member on a boat in Florida.
On a trip home from California in 1967, Sam met Brenda Bennett through mutual friends.
“He fell in love and knew it was his last trip back to California,” said daughter Sarah Barnes of Chambersburg, Pa.
Sam moved back east and worked at a Hagerstown barbershop before opening the Venice Barbershop in the Venice Hotel in 1968, followed by The Razor’s Edge Barbershop in 1970.
He was drinking in a local bar one afternoon in 1972 when his friend, Bobby Harmon of Clear Spring, found him and said he had something to tell Sam.
Bobby had become a born-again Christian, and Sam was so moved by Bobby’s story that he left the bar and followed Bobby’s lead.
“Sam, he was more than a friend. He was like family, like one of my brothers,” Bobby said.
They became regulars at the Fisherman’s Net, a coffee shop in downtown Hagerstown that was a Christian hangout.