Judith D. “Sammy” Case was born Sept. 23, 1958, in Johnstown, Penn. Sammy died of a rare thymus cancer at Sarah House on the morning of Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013, in the arms of her soulmate, Perry Cabugos, and with fast friends by her side in every other moment.
Sammy died as she lived, a warrior maiden who left home at an early age and headed for Montreal, Canada, where she landed a job as a model. Blonde-haired and beach-volleyball-fit in a world of fair-skinned, dark-haired women, Sammy soon was sought after as a bathing suit model representing the “California girl.” She eventually moved to California and landed in Santa Barbara.
She immediately took up bicycling, swimming and surfing (she entered many Rincon Classics and got second place in two of them), and she engaged in the Santa Barbara Triathalon for many years. She got a job waitressing at Brophy Bros. and became a friend to many of the fishermen. She worked as a tender on an abalone boat, surfed the islands, traveled to Baja and all in all loved the ocean with a passion.
People of the Santa Barbara Harbor came to know and love Sammy because she was reliable, sincere, tough on what she believed, and she stood up for her friends with a sledge hammer. She held women’s circles under a full moon, tended her dear friend Bill Slack in his final days, embraced Chumash culture and loved the great outdoors in general.
Sammy shifted her work from Brophy Bros. to Lucky’s when it opened, and in this capacity became known to many in Montecito. She took care of their dogs and homes, but she also saved the life of a woman diner who was choking on something, and for this deed she ended up on the front page of the Montecito Journal.
While working at Lucky’s and taking care of people’s pets and homes, Sam saved up money and put herself through Santa Barbara City College, then UCSB, graduating in 2004 with a bachelor of arts degree in history. During this time, she joined a Santa Barbara mentor program wherein she sponsored and cared for a young girl, Yreli, for many years as if she was in her own family.
When Sam was diagnosed with an extremely rare form of thymus cancer in 2011, she fought it head-on for 1½ vigorous years, and always with Perry always by her side. They went to Hawaii, walked the beaches, made jewelry together, and the last trip to Hawaii was only three months before she passed, and Sam made the trip against the advice of her doctors. They by now knew, as her friends knew, you didn’t tell Sam what she couldn’t do. Her motto: “If you’re not helping, please get out of the way.”
Besides Perry, Sammy leaves her dear friends from far and near who were her soul-family, notably Laura Sangas, Andy Johnson, Rusty Smith, Debbie Gardiner, Patti DaSilva, Hillary Hauser and the entire Cabugos clan. She also leaves her father, Matt Case, brothers Steve and Bob Case, and mother Dorothy Waite Case.
Her friends are extremely grateful for the exceptional loving kindness of the staff and workers at Sarah House, and request in lieu of flowers or cards that donations please be sent to Sarah House, 2612 Modoc Road, Santa Barbara, CA 93105.
In celebration of Sammy, a paddle-out and flotilla at sea will take place at noon Saturday, Jan. 26. Surfers and paddle-outs, meet at Leadbetter Beach; boaters, meet at the reception dock in front of the Harbor Masters Office in the Santa Barbara Harbor. A celebration will take place immediately afterward at the Endless Summer Bar & Café.
For more information, call Hillary Hauser at 805.895.5559.