In loving memory of

Harland E. Samson
September 30, 1928 - September 10, 2019

MADISON- Professor Harland 'Sam' Samson, age 90 of Madison, passed away peacefully on September 10th, 2019 at home. Harland was a former Dean and Emeritus Professor at the University of Wisconsin. Harland served in the Air Force from 1946 to 1949. He married Faye Finley on June 21st, 1952 and together, the couple raised four sons; Craig, Scott, Lee, and Kirk.
Raised in rural Minnesota during difficult economic times, Harland was the only member of his family to go to college, and later received his PhD from the University of Minnesota. He and his wife Faye lived in Alaska, North Dakota and Iowa before moving to Madison, and Harland was always a great believer in education through travel, working on missions in Africa, South America and the Caribbean and traveling to Europe, China, Australia and New Zealand. When he was not researching or mentoring his many graduate students, he spent as much time as possible enjoying the outdoors with his family - hiking the national parks, camping, or fishing in the Boundary Waters in northern Minnesota.
Harland worked at the UW-Madison from 1963-1993. As a Professor, he focused on continuing and vocational education, educational policy studies, marketing and retail merchandising. From 1975-1984, Harland served as the Associate Dean at the UW-Madison School of Education. From then until 1993, he was the Dean of Summer and Inter-College Programs.
Over his long and dynamic life, Harland was involved with many organizations and groups including the Nature Conservancy, Wisconsin Woodland Owners, United Methodist flood recovery teams, International Volunteers in Mission, Pacific Crest Trail Association, and the National Parks Association.
Harland is survived by his wife, Faye; his children and grandchildren. Cards may be sent care of Kirk Samson, 133 Pierce Rd., Highland Park, IL 60035. The family will celebrate his life with a private ceremony in Cumberland, Wisconsin but we encourage you to share your memories of Sam with a card or online at If you are interested in making a charitable contribution in his name, his family has asked that you support the efforts of the Nature Conservancy,


Jim Berbee wrote on Sep 17, 2019:

"Professor Samson was our next door neighbor. He welcomed us into the area and was always kind to us. I enjoyed his big smile and good nature. We thank providence to have known him for a short time. "

Patrick McBride wrote on Sep 14, 2019:

""Sam" was a favorite of UW Preventive Cardiology. He was gracious, humble and kind. Always, always with a big smile. Oh, to live my life like Sam! He never complained, even during a VERY painful heart attack back in the 1990s, only thanking our staff for our care for him until the ambulance arrived. He was one who did as we recommended, and one of our heroes in life. We will miss his smile the most. Blessings on the family, and we are so sorry for your loss. Your friends at UW Preventive Cardiology - Dr. Patrick McBride"