Sam Shanblum, 96, of Austin, TX, died Sunday, March 12, 2017, at home, after a brief illness.
Sam was born November 20, 1920, in Fort Worth, TX, to Louis and Rose Shanblum. The youngest of four brothers, he grew up in Fort Worth, where he and his brothers worked in the family grocery store not far from the TCU campus.
A graduate of Paschal High School, Sam attended North Texas Agricultural College, then spent a year in the UT Law School prior to joining the Army Air Corp in 1942. He served with a ground crew on the island of Saipan in the Western Pacific.
After the war, Sam returned to law school, but an auto accident resulted in a recuperation that kept him from going back to school. While recovering, a friend suggested Sam join him in a business venture. Seeing an opportunity, and ready to marry his hometown girlfriend, Bertha Samson, he accepted the offer and with his friend, Bob Gernsbacher, moved to Austin in1946 to open a restaurant supply business in the 100 block of West 5th St., moving later to East 6th St., across from what is now Esther's Follies. Sam married Bertha in 1947, and in 1949 bought out his friend Bob. Shanblum Cafe Supply became a 6th St. fixture, supplying many of Austin's most iconic restaurants, including Cisco's, Night Hawk, La Tapatia, Martin's Kum-Bak (Dirty Martin's), Threadgill's, and Fonda San Miguel, in addition to many small family-owned restaurants in neighboring towns.
With his family now including two daughters, Lynda and Laurie, Sam remained in the restaurant supply business until he retired in 1985, having been on 6th St. for almost 40 years and one of the last merchants to leave the street. He was happy to spend time with his wife, Bertha, also retired from The University of Texas, and pursue interests as varied as travel, reading, his weekly poker game, and barbequing chickens on a back-patio smoker whose secrets were well-kept.
Active in the Austin Jewish community for many years, Sam served as President of Congregation Beth Israel, where his beautiful speaking voice was part of High Holiday services for many years. He served numerous times on Travis County Grand Juries, often as Foreman, and for several years was a deputized volunteer ticket-writer for handicapped parking violations, a project of then-Travis County Constable Bruce Elfant.
Anyone who knew Sam knew he had a dry sense of humor, loved good off-color jokes, played a mean game of poker for high (nickel, dime & quarter) stakes, enjoyed history, especially the Civil War, mystery and crime novels, fixing his unparallelled Sunday-morning migas for his family and fortunate friends, finding bargains in many stores, and could speak more eloquently than almost anyone else. His Honor Flight trip to Washington, DC, was one of the most treasured experiences of his life.
Sam was predeceased by his parents, Louis and Rose, his brothers Nyman, Joseph and Abe Shanblum. He is survived by the love of his life and partner of almost 70 years, Bertha Shanblum, daughters Lynda and Laurie, nieces Marilyn Wroobel (Sherman Oaks, CA), Sandra Stephens (Cincinnati, OH), and, by marriage, nieces Susan Saxe and Cynthia Seltzer (St. Louis, MO), and nephew Douglas Samson (Santa Monica, CA), cousin Mary Frances Antweil (Fort Worth), his "grand-dog," Shala, and many friends. Special thanks to family helper, Becky Flores.
Funeral services will be held in the sanctuary of Congregation Beth Israel, 3901 Shoal Creek Blvd., Tuesday, March 14 at 11:00 a.m., followed by interment at Capital Parks Cemetery, 14501 IH-35, Pflugerville, TX. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to Congregation Beth Israel or the charity of your choice.
An in depth story about Sam Shanblum, written by Michael Barnes of the Austin American-Statesman, can be accessed at the following link: