Sam Satterwhite

Sam Satterwhite, who owned Satterwhite Log Homes, died at about 12:30 a.m. Saturday due to complications from COVID-19. He was 68. (Tammy Cromer photo/Special to the News-Journal)

Family, friends and community leaders on Saturday remembered Sam Satterwhite as a businessman who had a big heart and a love for serving his community.

Satterwhite, who owned Satterwhite Log Homes, died at about 12:30 a.m. Saturday due to complications from COVID-19. He was 68.

“My dad lived by the scripture of Luke 12:48, which says to him who is given much, much will be required,” his daughter Christi Satterwhite Amos said. “He would tell anybody that our family has been so blessed, and it was his duty to give back. That’s how he’s always lived his life. He loved God, his family, his country and his community with a fierceness.”

An East Texas native, Satterwhite graduated from Longview High School in 1970. He went on to study at Kilgore College and the University of Texas.

In 1974, after college, Satterwhite was building his own home, a brick A-frame house, when a man stopped by and liked what he saw. The man, named Bill Snow, asked Satterwhite if he could build him a log home. That was beginning of Satterwhite Log Homes.

From humble beginnings in Longview in 1974, Satterwhite Log Homes has grown to have manufacturing plants across the U.S. Today, it is one of the nation’s leading log home companies.

In addition to being known for his log homes, Satterwhite was known for his service to the community. Satterwhite served on the Longview ISD Board of Trustees for 12 years, from 2000 until 2012. Recently, he had served the district again as a board member for East Texas Advanced Academies (ETAA), a nonprofit organization that oversees some of Longview ISD’s charter campuses.

“My heart is broken today,” said Longview ISD trustee Chris Mack, who served with Satterwhite on the school board but who has known Satterwhite for decades. “Sam was a really good guy. He was honest, and he had a heart the size of a watermelon. The things I loved about him were how honest he was and how much he cared about this community and about our country. He was very patriotic. In business, he always dealt with people fairly. He was just a good guy.”

In addition to serving Longview ISD, Satterwhite also served with Azleway Boys Ranch in Tyler, Windridge Therapeutic Equestrian Center in Upshur County and Heartlight Ministries in Hallsville. He also supported 4-H programs and assisted with hurricane relief efforts, Amos said. He attended Bar None Cowboy Church in Tatum.

Known for his patriotism and his annual Fourth of July gatherings, Satterwhite also served on the board for Combat Warriors. He annually invited veterans who had served combat to his ranch in Diana for a weekend each year. This weekend, Combat Warriors are at Satterwhite’s ranch in Diana.

“Even in his situation, we knew he would want this to happen,” Amos said. “Yesterday (Friday), when we started getting bad news, the soldiers circled the flagpole and prayed for him.”

Satterwhite was in Georgia working on a parade of homes on Sept. 27 when he fell ill. He was taken to an ER in Jasper, Georgia, where he tested positive for COVID-19. He experienced ups and downs with the virus while remaining in the hospital in Georgia. The situation recently grew worse.

Amos recalled FaceTime conversations with her father in the hospital, saying his focus was on his grandchildren. He was looking forward to when he could take them squirrel hunting and give them kisses on the nose again.

“He lived for his grandkids. They were inseparable,” Amos said. “He’s left such a huge void in our lives. Words can’t express how much he will be missed.”

Longview Mayor Andy Mack said Satterwhite will be missed by the entire community.

“Sam was a pillar of the community,” Mack said. “He supported the community in his business. He supported the community financially, helping others. He gave his time to serve on the school board. He was always there for people when they needed him. What a legacy to leave to say that you were always there for somebody. He was loved by many.”

Since her father became ill, Amos said she has heard from countless individuals who all have a story to tell about the ways in which Satterwhite impacted their lives. From paying for funeral costs to helping people build homes, he was known for passing on acts of kindness to many, doing so anonymously in many cases.

“He had the biggest heart and his personality was larger than life,” Amos said. “His life’s work was to help others. He loved his log home business, he loved his family and he loved his community.”

It is those stories that she intends to pass on to her children.

Satterwhite is survived by his wife, Travonda, of 43 years. The couple would have celebrated their 44th wedding anniversary next Saturday. He is also survived by his children and grandchildren: daughter Christi Amos, her husband Alan, and their children, Cason, Sawyer and Avery; son Nicholas Satterwhite, his wife Kelley, and their children, Porter and Tate; and daughter Lindsey Wise, her husband Collin, and their children, Parker and Riley.