Samuel James Shimkus was born on March 15, 1990, to Jeff and Kim Shimkus. Growing up in San Clemente, California, they learned early on that Sam was an incredibly special young man. In his early years of education, he attended Our Savior’s Lutheran School and Ole Hanson Elementary School, where all of the other students were easily drawn to his charismatic personality and sharp sense of humor. He excelled in school from a very early age, especially in his favorite subjects of English, Geography, and History. He went on to attend Shorecliffs Middle School and San Clemente High School, where he continued to build relationships with his many close friends, teachers, and parents throughout the community. After graduating, he briefly attended Northern Arizona University, but returned home to attend Saddleback College. He had plans to transfer to the University of San Diego in the fall of this year. In addition to being a full-time student, Sam held two jobs. He was a Special Education Instructional Aide for the Capistrano Unified School District as well as a Center Associate for the UPS Store in Dana Point.
Sam was a person of many loves and interests – the foremost of which was his family. He possessed a unique bond with each one of his family members: his father, an Anaheim Fire Captain; his mother, who works at San Clemente High School with severely handicapped children; his sister, Sarah who is nearing graduation from cosmetology school and Anthony, his ‘Little Big Brother.’ Largely due to his devotion to Anthony, who has Down Syndrome, as well as his compassionate nature, Sam made it one of his many quests in life to reach out to the disabled. He was a member of the ‘Best Buddies’ program during his time at San Clemente High School, as well as a part-time Special Education Instructional Aide for CUSD, working at San Clemente High School after he graduated. Sam also shared a special relationship with his grandparents with whom he recently took a trip to Yellowstone National Park.
In addition to his love for his family, anyone close to Sam would agree that he gave new meaning to the term ‘friend.’ He acquired more close friendships in nearly twenty years than most people do in an entire lifetime, due to his rare ability to find something positive in everyone. He was a remarkable listener, always willing to lend an ear to anyone in need, and he could ignite laughter until one was on the verge of tears. He would have done anything to aid a friend, whether it was offering his advice or bringing over a ‘Pick-Me-Up’ smoothie to one who was feeling down. His friends would also concur that he exhibited a number of quirks, including his love of the History Channel, his affinity for new jeans, and his inability to make up his mind, all of which inspired his unique and lovable charm.
In conjunction with his sometimes fickle nature was Sam’s love of many different activities. Whether it was hiking with his father, wake-boarding on Lake Mead, near his family’s house in the desert, snowboarding with his friends, or running on the San Clemente beach trail, Sam reveled in being outside and active. He also loved going to the gym, taking road trips, talking with friends around his firepit, debating about politics, and listening to music. He was motivated and hardworking, always occupying a job in addition to his schoolwork.
There are no words to convey the sorrow that Sam’s family and friends are feeling at this time, but if there is one thing to be said, it is that he will be fiercely missed by all of the people whose lives he touched. He was an amazing son, grandson, brother, nephew, cousin and friend. It is an understatement to say that the community of San Clemente has suffered a great tragedy in losing this truly kindhearted and exceptional individual.
Sam is survived by his parents: Jeff and Kim Shimkus; a brother, Anthony Bennett; a sister, Sarah Shimkus; grandparents, Lyman and Carol Pedersen of Cypress, James Bennett of Pennsylvania; many great-aunts, great-uncles, aunts, uncles and cousins.
A ‘Celebration of Life’ service will be held on February 6, 2010 at 1:00 pm at Pacific Coast Church in San Clemente. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the Special Olympics. Also, if you have a special remembrance of Sam or a funny story, please handwrite it and bring along to the service. A basket will be provided to collect them for the family.