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Sammy RebeccaJune 20, 1930 ~ July 24, 2017 (age 87)
Sammy Joseph Rebecca, 87, of Champaign, Illinois, passed away on Monday, July 24, 2017, surrounded by family in Champaign, Illinois.
Sammy was born on June 20, 1930, in Rockford, Illinois to Nick and Martha Rebecca. He graduated from the University of Illinois in 1952 and played 4 years for Ray Elliott’s Illini football team highlighted by kicking the game winning field goal in the last game of the season to beat Northwestern 3 – 0 and help land Illinois in the 1952 Rose Bowl game against Stanford. He was given the nickname “Sammy the Toe” and spent the rest of his life loyal to all things related to the University of Illinois. Sammy served in Korea 1952-1954 and returned to the University of Illinois’ Graduate program. After a short stint in sales with AG Spaulding Sporting Goods, Sammy spent the next 37 years at the University starting as Manager of Married Student Housing and later holding positions of Director of Housing, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Administrative Affairs and Associate Athletic Director under John Mackovic until he retired in September of 1992. For the next 3 years Sammy volunteered in the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics at the University. In addition, Sammy served as Exalted Ruler of the Urbana Elks, was a Member of the Board of Directors and served as President of both the Varsity I Association and the Champaign Quarterback Club.
Sammy lived a long full life and loved his family dearly and was married to the love of his life Marilyn for 61 years. He was devoted to his family first but that was closely followed by his love for the Illini and his Chicago Cubs. He was a regular fixture at all Illini football and basketball games for many years and never missed a Cubs game on TV unless he was in attendance at Wrigley Field. He will always be remembered as a dedicated and loving husband, father and grandfather as well as a passionate and loyal Illini and Cub fan through thick and thin. Sammy loved to golf and spend time with his family and friends. He had a giving heart, a warm and happy nature, and loved to smile. He and his wife Marilyn spent 16 wonderful years in Sun Lakes, Arizona following his retirement and came back to Champaign in 2014.
Sammy is survived by his loving wife Marilyn of Champaign, 4 children Martha and her husband Mike Sharpe of Champaign, Daniel and his wife Heidi of Barrington, IL, Steven and his wife Michelle of Ballwin, MO, and Richard of St. Louis, MO; a brother, Jerry and his wife, Judy of Rockford, as well and 9 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren.
Following a cremation, a private memorial service will be held. Owens Funeral Home will handle the arrangements. Memorial contributions in his name may be made to St. Matthew Catholic Church, 1303 Lincolnshire Dr, Champaign, IL 61821.