Today, we honor Sam Ciccio ‘36, who recently passed away. Sam was the oldest living alumnus of Lewis. We were privileged to interview him a couple years ago at his home in River Forest. He was very pleased that we had taken the time to interview him and share a lot of great memories of Lewis in the 1930s. He told us about his love for Lewis and revealed that he avidly reads everything we send him. When he could still drive he attended several theatre events and had the opportunity to meet Brother James during these events.
Sam originally came to Lewis University because his mother was concerned that he was starting to hang out with some undesirable folks in the neighborhood. While enrolled at Lewis, he participated in boxing, baseball and basketball. He was also the lead in a skit that the graduating class put on. He noted that it was pretty heady stuff to study Algebra, Geometry and Physics, because those areas of study were never even discussed back in his neighborhood. He was also able to spend time in the air, in addition to the time he spent working on planes.
After graduating from Lewis, Sam was offered an additional 10 month course of studies here on campus, but turned it down because he was anxious to get back to his friends from the neighborhood. In retrospect, he wishes he would have accepted the offer, but noted that he was young and impulsive. So, instead, he had to find a job and quickly faced the reality of a bad job market. Due to the technical skills he learned here at Lewis, however, he was able to work in a factory.
When World War II started, Sam and his cousin decided to enlist together. His cousin suffered from leukemia, however, so he kept getting rejected by every branch of the service. His cousin was finally accepted by the Coast Guard, so they both enlisted. Unfortunately, his cousin died of the disease shortly thereafter.
After the war, Sam got a job in the credit department at Marshall Field’s. He quickly saw that the salespeople made the most money, so he transitioned into a career in sales. He then became a real estate broker for Baird & Warner. After a successful nine-year stint at Baird, he decided to go out on his own. He was successful at buying and managing commercial and residential buildings. Sam also became pretty skilled at buying and repairing distressed properties. Sam has five children. His wife passed away a number of years ago.
You can watch the interviews we had with Sam here:
Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=csst4ddqQgg
Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WFuIbthjPDg
Farewell, Sam. We were blessed to have known you.