PEMBROKE — Samuel “Sam” Locklear, the longtime owner and operator of Locklear and Son Funeral Home, is being remembered as a respected businessman, and a caring and passionate leader of the community.
Locklear, who would have turned 89 in July, died Monday at Southeastern Regional Medical Center.
Pembroke Mayor Greg Cummings has fond childhood memories of his relationship with Locklear, who also served as mayor, in the early 1960s.
“I’ve known him since I was a boy,” Cummings said. “He was a fine businessman, a very polite gentleman, quiet, and helped a lot of people … . He was respected. He met everyone with a handshake.”
A lifelong resident of Pembroke, Locklear was the first American Indian to be licensed as a funeral director in Robeson County. He began working at his father Luther Locklear’s funeral home in 1952, and took over the business when his father retired in 1965.
Locklear attended the Pembroke schools before joining the U.S. Army and served as a paratrooper for 2.5 years. He studied at Pembroke State College, now The University of North Carolina at Pembroke. In 1954 Locklear graduated second in his class from the Dallas Institute of Mortuary Science in Texas.
Locklear was actively involved in the Pembroke community. He served as mayor in 1963 and 1964, and at the time of his death still was serving on the Lumberton Municipal Airport Commission and the Thomas Family Center for Entrepreneurship board of directors. He also was an active member of the Pembroke Gospel Hall church.
In 1953, Locklear married his wife, Katrina. The retired educator also is well known for her community involvement. Among other things, she served for 12 years on the Southeastern Regional Medical Center board of directors.
Randall Jones, a former CEO of the Lumbee River Electric Membership Corporation, said Wednesday that Locklear was like a second father to him. Jones said he worked for Locklear while he was in high school and college.
“The things he taught me as a young man helped me through my career with LREMC,” Jones said. “He was very professional and expected things to be done on time and in order … . He treated his employees and the families he served with respect.”
Locklear was a “very upfront person,” said Bill Oxendine, a longtime friend of Locklear.
“He was strictly a business person. He was always straight and honest,” Oxendine said. “He was the kind of business person you want to do business with … I know he will be missed.”
As they remembered Locklear, several people on Wednesday referred to his compassion and desire to help people in need.
“I will always be grateful to Mr. Locklear for giving me a chance 29 years ago when no one else would,” said Danelle Locklear, the current manager of the Locklear and Son Funeral Home. “He was a great man who had compassion for the families he served, and he has helped more people and families than I can imagine. I was taught by the best and will strive to carry on the way he would want it done.”
The manager said that although Locklear no longer went out on funerals, he came into the office every day to do paperwork and other office-related jobs.
“He loved his work and wanted to continue doing what he thought needed to be done,” she said.
Dr. Martin Brooks, of Pembroke, said Locklear was a lifelong friend and his patient for 50 years.
“He was honest, solid, a good individual. I enjoyed his friendship,” Brooks said. “We grew close together, especially in our later years, and I was with him a few minutes before he passed.”
Locklear will be missed by many in the Pembroke community, Brooks said.
“He was not only loved by me, but by a lot of people…There is now a void in my life, but I have every intention and expectation that I will see him again in future eternity.”
Bob Shiles can be reached at 910-416-5165.