In Memory of

Samuel

Jerry

"Sam"

McKoy

Obituary for Samuel Jerry "Sam" McKoy

Samuel Jerry McKoy was born on April 18, 1939, in Atlanta, Georgia to George W and Nellie Faye (Bartlett) McKoy. He was baptized in the Baptist Church at a young age and raised his daughters, Sherri and Nita, in the Presbyterian Church. Sam was raised in Austell, Georgia and graduated from South Cobb High School in 1957. At South Cobb, he played basketball and ran track and made life-long friends.

During his school years, Sam became very active in Boy Scouts where he became a Patrol leader and achieved the rank of Life Scout. He continued in the Explorers where he achieved the status of Junior Assistant Scout Master.

He graduated from the Southern Technical Institute (Georgia Tech) in 1961 with an Associate Degree in Electronics Technology. While living in the Washington, D.C. area and working at FAA Headquarters, he attended night school for two more years at the University of Maryland. He attended Southern Tech in the Atlanta area for five additional years studying Industrial Engineering Technology. Sam always said, “I would rather go to class without my pants than without my slide rule!”.

Sam was employed by Picker X-Ray Corporation in Atlanta as an X-ray Service Engineer for a short time.
He was hired in 1961 by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as an Electronics Technician at Turner AFB Joint Use site in Albany, Georgia. He later was assigned at the long-range radar site in Marietta, Georgia. In 1966, he was selected into a competitive FAA Headquarters Management Development Program. That year, he was the only person selected who was not an Air Traffic Controller. He returned to Atlanta from Washington, D.C. in 1971 to the FAA Southern Regional Office serving in many disciplines in the Human Resource Management Division. In the Southern Region, he was a star and quickly became the “go-to” specialist in the region for employee conduct and discipline. Managers across the southeast relied on Sam’s expertise when conduct issues arose. He was primary in the removal of over 2,500 air traffic controllers who went on strike in 1981 in the Southern Region. Although Sam was not an attorney, he spent countless hours over the next three years in the “right seat” fielding individual hearings, arbitrations, and various other legal proceedings to resolve appeals related to their removal.

Growing up in North Georgia, Sam became a fervent student of traditional cultural music of that area and Tennessee--Bluegrass. He took lessons to play a classical guitar. In 1972, he purchased a 6-string Deering banjo, but it never became much more than a toy and an item for Show-and-Tell.

While raising his family, he coached his daughters’ softball teams for six years and was an officer in the youth recreational softball association. When his girls won a game, they jumped for joy knowing that Sam would usually walk on his hands for them (across the whole field) as it was their favorite celebration ritual.
He was loved as a coach by his players and their parents. He was fair and believed every player deserved a chance. As well as teaching the young girls how to play ball, he believed it was more important to teach them good sportsmanship. His most cherished award over his lifetime was given by the umpires for his team’s sportsmanship. He was notorious for hauling the high school cheerleaders in the orange Volkswagen Bus to away games. Sam became the cheerleader transportation and many of Sherri’s cheer squad kept in touch with him through all these years.

On July 1, 1995, he married Judy Barnett Morris of Oklahoma City. Judy transferred from the FAA Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center to the FAA Southern Region in Georgia. They made their home on the Cartecay River, Ellijay, Georgia. Sam and Judy both worked at the FAA offices in Atlanta. They commuted 100 miles, each way, navigating the chaotic Atlanta traffic together every time.
Sam and Judy lived in Ellijay for the next 18 years before retiring and moving to Edmond, Oklahoma. Sam retired from FAA in 2003 with over 42 years of service.

Sam enjoyed taking vacations and spending time near the water, although he did not actually like to get in the water. The only exception was when he got the chance to go tubing on the Cartecay River with friends and family that would frequently come to visit. Sam enjoyed playing ping-pong with his famous “leg-kick” and finally managed to beat Judy after several years of trying. He was an avid reader who never wanted to stop learning. Sam enjoyed seeing life from other perspectives, in the books he would pursue, and usually gravitated to non-fiction. People knew Sam as being a very fun person. It didn’t matter if he was walking in the mall, dancing at a special occasion with his family and friends, or just enjoying everyone’s company when he was near his loved ones. Sam always thoughtfully hand-picked cartoons (to throw inside a birthday card), for all of us, that perfectly poked fun at our individuality.

After moving from the North Georgia Mountains to Oklahoma in 2013, Sam found numerous ways to enjoy his love of music. You could find him at the Arcadia Round Barn on a hot summer day. He also dabbled in playing instruments of his own. These ranged from playing the guitar, 5-string banjo, jaws harp, gut bucket, and ham bone (a rhythmic, percussive, body music). Sam loved coming to the American Banjo Museum in Oklahoma City. He attended numerous concerts highlighting some of the most talented banjo musicians in the country. He also couldn’t miss the special events held at the museum. These included things like the Mardi Gras Celebration and the Annual Hall of Fame Festival.

Sam is survived by his wife of 28 years, Judy, daughter, Sherri McKoy Interrante and husband Joseph of Alpharetta, Georgia, daughter, Nita McKoy Hamm and husband Robert of Cumming, Georgia, brother, Bill McKoy of Estero, Florida, grandson, Ryan Interrante and wife Lauren of Palmetto Bay, Florida, grandson Alexander Interrante and wife Robin of Alpharetta, Georgia, granddaughter Abbey Interrante and husband Anthony Spagnoli of Crofton, Maryland and great-grandson Levi Interrante.

Sam’s surviving stepfamily is son, Brad Morris and wife Deanna of Yukon, Oklahoma, son Eric Morris and wife Pritam of Arlington, Texas, grandson Austin Kappes of Spring, Texas and grandson Gavan Morris of Yukon, Oklahoma, Kyle and Natalie Hamm of Athens, Georgia. Sam is loved by many in-laws, cousins, nieces, and nephews.

The family would like to extend an invitation to attend Sam’s memorial service. It will be held on Saturday, January 13, 2024, at the American Banjo Museum, 9 E. Sheridan Ave, Bricktown, Oklahoma City. Prepaid parking is available behind (north) of the museum. You should enter from Oklahoma Avenue and inform the parking attendant you are attending the McKoy service at the museum. A catered reception will begin at 5:30 p.m. followed by a brief service.

Huge thanks to the nursing staff at Mercy Hospital’s 2A, 4AB, 4CD and the ER. Of specific note are Tyler, Carol, Carley, Kelly Jo, Douglas, Jade, Devin, Sandra and all of the fourth floor Briannas. Also, deepest thanks for their wonderful care, compassion and bedside manner to Doctors Roberts, Royce, Bui, Santos, Morton and Gharfeh. Gratitude is extended for the oversight and care from Doctor Guillermo Garcia-Manero of M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.