Canteens dangling from around his neck, Sam Wold prepared to dip water from a shell crater in France during World War II. Before he could bend, he saw a German helmet, then a rifle, aiming right at him.
He froze, but couldn’t stop his buddy’s water cans from clanging together. He prepared to die.
Then the German soldier suddenly dropped his rifle, deciding to let the enemy live.
Wold never discovered why.
Wold stopped in Paris after the war and circulated a letter thanking the German soldier for his act of kindness. He never knew if the letter reached the soldier.
Sam Martin Wold Jr., 81, was born March 31, 1925, in Seattle and died April 28 in Sultan. He suffered from diabetes and hypertension. He owned the Sultan Saw Shop.
His brother, William Wold, said Sam Wold is the most highly decorated member of the Tulalip Tribe, having served in the U.S. Army with Trail Blazers, 70th Infantry Division.
But Wold kept that fact close to his chest.
Robert Clark, a customer at the saw shop, chatted with the proprietor about military service. Clark, an Army veteran, asked the former logger if he could add his name to an Internet war memorial.
“Given his extreme modesty, he declined,” Clark said. “I found out later that he routinely gave money to the Boys and Girls Club of Sultan and the Tulalip Confederated Tribes, but asked that his name never be mentioned.”
Their mother, Beatrice, died in 1930, William Wold said.
Grandmother Joanna Sheldon raised the children to embrace their culture.
Every Memorial Day, Wold and his family drove to the sacred grounds at Mission Beach Cemetery, said his cousin, Diane Janes. The clan cleaned graves and Wold would bring a dozen baskets of flowers for ancestors.
Wold graduated at age 16 from Granite Falls High School, without ever being tardy or missing a day of school.
Then he spent a year at the University of Washington before joining the Army.
When he returned home after the war, his proud grandmother marched him from store to store, introducing him to everybody in Marysville, his brother said.
Sam Martin Wold Jr. is survived by his wife of 54 years, Marie Wold; a stepson, Larry Gow; a grandson, Kenneth, and his wife April and their children Madeline and Seth. Siblings include William, Sharon, Barbara, Larry, Beatrice Batt and Karolina.
Sam was preceded in death by his parents, Severin “Sam” and Beatrice Dunn Wold; and his grandmother, Joanna Siebert-Sheldon.
For almost 50 years, Wold’s life was centered on his saw shop. In the early days, it was Sultan’s department store, with dibs of this and dabs of that. He lived next door in a mobile home.
Callers always heard “Sam here” when they dialed the shop. Wold had patriotic murals painted on walls of his shop. Drivers on U.S. 2 may have noticed his totem pole, carved eagles, stumps and an old barber’s chair outside.
A climber dropped by recently to pay his respects. Jim Burgess cherished two pictures Wold handed to customers, showing an old-time Sultan Shindig bucking competition and a parade of huge logs on trucks in Snohomish.
Burgess bought chainsaw supplies and always stayed to sit a spell. Wold wore Hickory logger’s shirts and sold one to Burgess. They talked about the good old days of topping spar trees.
“Such an era,” Burgess said. “Sam had such big energy.”
Wold was laid to rest beside his loved ones at Mission Beach Cemetery.
Hreald writer Kristi O’Harran: 425-339-3451 or firstname.lastname@example.org.