Friends of Historic Woolsey

Preserving Our Yesterdays for Tomorrow 

The Life and Legacy of Ferrol Aubrey Sams Jr. (1922 – 2013): A Southern Literary Icon

Woolsey, Georgia, a small, tight-knit community in Fayette County, has been home to many notable residents. Among them, Ferrol Aubrey Sams Jr., known by his family and a few close friends as "Sambo," stands out not just as a local, but also as a national figure. An accomplished novelist, humorist, and medical doctor, Sams left an indelible mark on both literature and medicine.

Born in Woolsey, Georgia, Sams's journey to becoming a celebrated author began in a humble setting. His early education and experiences in Woolsey would later form the backdrop of his acclaimed novels. Sams graduated from Mercer University and then pursued his medical degree at Emory University School of Medicine. His experiences and education from these institutions not only shaped him as a doctor but also honed his storytelling skills.

From 1943 to 1947, Sams served in the military and saw action in France. The experiences, hardships, and camaraderie that he encountered during his military service deeply influenced his writings. His stories often depicted the resilience and valor of ordinary people in extraordinary situations, a theme that resonated with his readers.

After military service, Sams, along with his wife, Helen, practiced medicine in Fayette County. Both of them served their community until their retirement in 2006. Their medical practice was not just a profession but a mission to serve their community. Sams's profound understanding of human nature, gained from his years of practicing medicine, added depth and authenticity to the characters in his novels.

Sams was a master storyteller, who wrote eight novels. His distinct southern voice, laced with humor and wisdom, enriched his narratives. Among his works, When All the World Was Young brought him the Townsend Prize for Fiction. In 2012, the Georgia Writers Association honored him with the Lifetime Achievement Award, a fitting tribute to his contribution to American literature.

The remarkable life of Ferrol Aubrey Sams Jr. is a testament to his diverse talents and his commitment to serving his community. His legacy lives on in his literary works and in the hearts of those whose lives he touched through his medical practice.