Samuel William "Sam" Nugent

Samuel William "Sam" Nugent


Samuel William “Sam” Nugent, 84, passed away on Monday, June 26, 2017, at home surrounded by family after a lengthy battle with melanoma. Sam was united in marriage to Marilyn Diane Lavinder on September 13, 1980 in Benton City, MO

Sam was born on April 27, 1933 in Heber Springs, Arkansas to William Lee Nugent and Vera Pearl Linton. He graduated from Bald Knob High School (AR) and then entered the United States Air Force in 1954, serving on active duty until 1957 and the reserves until 1962. Sam then attended Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, AR from 1957 until 1961, graduating in 1961 with a Bachelor of Science in Education. While at Arkansas State, Sam ran on the track team and served as an athletic trainer.

In 1961, Sam moved to Kirksville where he became a trainer at Truman State University while working on a Master's degree which he completed in 1963.

Sam was appointed to the University faculty at the beginning of the 1963-64 academic year and was the athletic trainer for the Bulldog Football program. In 1966, he restarted the baseball program that had went dormant following World War II and guided the program for 24 years between two different stints. At one time, he had three former players all pitching in the major leagues with Dave Wehrmeister, Bruce Berenyi and Al Nipper representing the Bulldogs. In 1980, Sam took a sabbatical from Truman State and served as the pitching coach at the University of South Florida for hall of fame pitcher, Robin Roberts.

Nugent retired from coaching in 1989 and served as Assistant Athletics Director for Facilities and Operations until his retirement in 1995. Sam was an instructor emeritus in health and exercise science. In 2014, Sam was inducted into the Truman State Athletic Hall of Fame, an honor that he cherished.

He is credited with starting the Senior Babe Ruth program in Kirksville and guiding the local team to a state title in 1970. He was also involved in the Kirksville Baseball Softball Association following his retirement from Truman and worked with the city of Kirksville on the maintenance of the local playing fields. Sam was inducted in the KBSA Hall of Fame in 2005. For nine years, Sam made taking care of the ball fields more than a hobby and part-time job. In 2008, he was awarded the District 5 field of the year by the National High School Baseball Association, making the field a finalist in top 8 fields in the nation. He also coached junior high softball at Kirksville Junior High School, was an assistant coach for Schuyler County High School baseball and coached a Junior Babe Ruth team during that time.

Outside of work, Sam was an avid gardener and was particularly proud of the strawberries it produced every year. He loved nothing more than to share the bounty of the garden with friends and even strangers. He continued work in the garden as much as possible even up until this year. Sam also loved to attend sporting events. It was no surprise to see him at random high school games in any sport on any given day in Missouri, Iowa and Illinois. He always loved attending Truman State sporting events and was a true Bulldog. Sam was also passionate about his alma mater, Arkansas State, and was quick to brag on their success in football. There were few strangers to Sam, and it seemed no matter where he would be in the United States, he would find someone he knew.

Sam, more so than anything, was a great and loving husband and dad. He would do anything for his family. Sam spent countless hours hauling his three children all over to sporting events, many hours and thousands of miles on the road to watch them compete and coach. Even when he became sick, his primary concern was for the well-being of his family.

Sam was a member of Fellowship Baptist Church and professed a strong belief in Jesus Christ.

He is survived by his wife of 36 years, Marilyn Nugent; two sons, David Nugent of Hallsville and Mark Nugent of Kirksville; one daughter, Hannah Strong (Robert) of Belleville, IL; brother, AJ (Bettie) Nugent of Dexter.

He was preceded in death by his parents, William and Vera, and three brothers, Lee, Theo and Talmadge.

Visitation will be Thursday, June 29, from 5 to 8 pm at the Travis-Noe Funeral Home. Funeral services will be Friday, June 30 at 2 pm at Travis-Noe Funeral Home with burial to follow at Highland Park Cemetery in Kirksville.

Pallbearers are Pat Williams, John B. Grossnickle, Norman Lavinder, John Bickers, Dave Aubel and Charlie Whisler.

Honorary pallbearers are Larry Boleach, John Cochrane, Howard Hickman and Russ Sloan.

Pastor Robert Strong along with Pastor Larry Gibson of Fellowship Baptist Church will be officiating.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to:

Memorial gifts may be directed to the UI Foundation, P.O. Box 4550, Iowa City, IA 52244-4550 or made online at to support the Melanoma Research Fund (30506072). On the memo line please note in memory of Sam Nugent. Credit card gifts are accepted by calling Toll Free 800-648-6973, Ext. 895.

Truman State University Foundation-Sam Nugent Baseball Fund Truman State University, Office of Advancement, McClain Hall 205, 100 E. Normal Ave., Kirksville, MO 63501-4221 or made online at On the memo line please note in memory of Sam Nugent. Credit card gifts are accepted by calling (800) 452-6678 or (660) 785-4133.

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