Last Friday afternoon, I received an email from the lovely Jamie Collins, founder of the collaborative paralegal blog, The Paralegal Society. She had been reviewing her blog's stats, and was unsettled to see a search for "sami hartsfield deceased". She realized Sami, usually very prompt to respond, had not answered a recent email.
Because Jamie knew Sami and I were Facebook friends, she asked if I'd check Sami's Facebook page. Jamie was hoping Sami was simply on vacation. So was I.
But from the most recent postings on Sami's Facebook wall, it was clear that she had tragically died in late June. Ever cautious of unverified news stories, I searched online for further information, but could not locate anything as of Friday afternoon. With a heavy heart, I told Jamie that the conversation on Sami's Facebook wall indicated she had died unexpectedly.
Today Sami's obituary is available online, with information about the July 10th memorial service in Houston, Texas. I thought the world of Sami, and would go in a heartbeat if I lived in Texas.
I'm not going to repeat Sami's many, many accomplishments here, because Jamie of The Paralegal Society and Pamela of Pamela the Paralegal have already done great posts. Sami also did a professional profile for Practical Paralegalism in September 2011.
The last email I received from Sami was on June 21, when she announced that she and many of her other favorite paralegal bloggers were included in Criminal Justice Degree Schools "Top Paralegal Blogs". She ended her email with a, "Woot!" I know she made me smile that day, as she did on many other days.
What I can tell you about Sami is that she was passionate about the paralegal profession, she was a prolific writer, and she loved social media. As of today, she had 5,353 Facebook friends on her personal profile, and 1,374 likes on LegallyBlog's Facebook page. She had over 4,200 followers at her Twitter feed, and 500+ contacts on her LinkedIn page. She provided a great deal of extremely helpful information at her blog, Legally Blog, and wrote guest posts for other blogs, including The Paralegal Society.
In her Practical Paralegalism profile, Sami said her favorite quote was, "You create your own universe as you go along." She shared that she was writing a book and was known for cooking Southern fried chicken with "artery-choking heavy white gravy." I know that Sami was a huge part of the online paralegal universe, and was well-loved by her colleagues, friends and family.
Sami's unexpected death is an enormous loss for all of us, but she has left a tremendous legacy of helpful online content. Even so, I'll miss her posts popping up in my RSS feed reader. She used the word "Goddess" to describe herself in most of her online profiles, and that's how I'll continue to think of her, as a vivacious, articulate, and fun-loving Paralegal Goddess.