Mr. Venable taught seven years in the Knoxville School System before World War II, in which he served as an infantry major. He moved to UT after the war.
In addition to his teaching duties at UT, Mr. Venable was a long time track and field official, official scorer at UT basketball games and annually served as tournament director of TSSAA basketball. He was past president of the Knoxville Track Club and was active in the YMCA, of which he was past president.
“We carried the downs-markers and chain together at Tennessee football games for 22 years” said Maynard Glenn, City Recreation Bureau Director. “I suppose Sam was the greatest all-around man I’ve ever known. He did more things for others than he ever did for himself. He was thoughtful and kind and religious and completely honest.”
“Sam Venable was my teacher”, said Dr. Andy Kosar, former head of the men’s physical education department at UT. “He was a fantastic human being, so unselfish, so concerned about others. He had many jobs and many skills and yet a wit and warmth you seldom see. I recall him asking the blessing at our first T-Club alumni dinner. He said ‘Lord, forgive us for the sports stories we are about to exaggerate’”.
Sam was, for perhaps 20 years, the driving force in UT’s intramural program. He did surveys and advised Knoxville’s growing recreation system. He officiated sports events and worked at hundreds of track meets before there was a Knoxville Track Club to share the job. He counted sit-ups and taught future coaches how to coach.
“No person in my memory has done more to encourage wholesome sports than Sam Venable,” said Andy Holt, UT’s president emeritus.
Sam will be remembered for his contributions to education, to athletics, to environmental awareness, to racial equality, to peace and goodwill for all of humanity. But the Rohe-era track and field athletes will most remember Sam for his total support and tireless contributions to the UT track program. He was a beloved friend of the program.
(excerpts taken from several Knoxville News Sentinel writers: Al Rogers, Marvin West and Sam Venable, Jr.)