Samuel William Rizzo passed away on the first day of the year 2018. He was 82 years old and led a very robust and gregarious life.
He was born Oct. 8, 1935, in Houston, to Lucille and Cosimo Rizzo. He was the second child with two sisters, Rosemary Parisi and Jan Sellers. Sam lived in Houston for his first seven years until the family moved near Dayton, where he met the love of his life, Juanita Joy Holbrook. They were married Oct. 26, 1957, after Sam completed a bachelor’s degree in Commerce from the University of Notre Dame. They were married for 60 years. Sam and Nita had four children; Samuel Cosimo, Daniel Chester, David William and Mary Elizabeth. From the start of Sam and Nita's already large family grew an even larger family, which Sam loved very much. Samuel Cosimo married Jill Lynn Neathery and has three children, Joshua, Sean and Samantha. Dan is married to Kristine Lancaster and has three children, Danielle, Nicholas and Will. David married Lynn Coons and has four children, Olivia, Madalyn, David and Nolan. Elizabeth married Tim Moore and has two children, Elissa and Sam. And the family continues from these 12 grandchildren to three more great-grandchildren, Braden, Ashton, Navie and two more on the way.
Sam grew up in Liberty, where he attended Liberty High School. He was the Student Body President, lettered all four years in band and was a star athlete in track and football. He and 3 of his good friends were the 3A Texas State Champions in 4x400 meter relay. He was also awarded Best Actor in One Act Play.
He served as a squadron leader during boot camp in the United States Air Force Reserve, and was honorably discharged Feb. 3, 1964.
Sam continued his education and ultimately became a Certified Public Accountant. In the bold and typical fashion of Sam, he owned and operated his own CPA firm for several years before being hired by the WEDGE group as the Operating Director. After WEDGE, he started his own oil and gas service company called RESCO (Rizzo Energy Services Co.) in 1979. During the big 1981 oil crisis, he sold it and went to work for Waltrip Enterprises before becoming the Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for Service Corporation International. In addition, he served as a board member for Cash America International and Tanknology Corporation.
Other than his tremendous success in the financial world, Sam's true passion was his service to several Catholic churches throughout his life, including being one of the founding members of St. Albert's Catholic church, and a big supporter of St. Thomas High School in Houston. In addition to his service to the Catholic community, he dedicated himself to the Lighthouse of Houston for the Blind. He volunteered 10 years to the Lighthouse Board of Directors ultimately serving as the chairman. During his tenure, he was instrumental in activating key technological advances at the Lighthouse; one of which was the first ever computer system to allow blind people the ability to document medical transcriptions for physicians.
Sam and Nita moved to Madisonville in 2000 where they owned and operated two large ranches, SANITA and Greenbriar. They continued their philanthropy being very involved with St. Elizabeth Ann Seton's Catholic Church, the Madisonville County Fair, and were charitable to several other organizations in Madisonville.
Sam will be dearly missed by all.
In lieu of flowers, the family encourages donations to the Lighthouse of Houston, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton’s building fund, or another charity of your choice.
The funeral Mass will start at 11 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018, at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Madisonville. The grandsons and great-grandson will be pallbearers.
The burial will be private.