Samuel A. Burrell Jr.

samuel burrell

December 1, 1932 ~ April 11, 2022

Born in: New Haven, CT
Resided in: Hamden, CT

Samuel Abbott Burrell, Jr., 89, of Hamden, passed away with his family by his side on April 11, 2022 at MidState Medical Center. He was born to the late Samuel and Evelyn Taylor Burrell on December 1, 1932, in New Haven. Sam married the former Gertrude Williams on September 1, 1956. He never missed an opportunity to acknowledge his love and pride for his family: daughter, Evelyn Fay (Donald); sons, Samuel Abbott, III (Alexis) and Scott David (Jeane’); grandchildren, Aaron Taylor Washington, Coakley Scott Burrell, Alycia Taylor Washington (Cassie) and Cora Jean Burrell; sister, Charlotte Mikell; niece, Sharon O’Connor (Everett); step-grandchildren Kathleen Fay, Timothy Fay, Tyler Devine, and Miles Hightower. Predeceased by his sister, Muriel Estelle and niece, Elizabeth Estelle.
After graduating from St. Mary’s High School in New Haven, Sam served his country in the Korean War as a medic. He received the prestigious Bronze Star for his heroic contributions in the War. Upon his return from Korea, he became a proud graduate of Southern Connecticut State University.
In addition to loving his family endlessly, Sam was a lover of any and all sports, and baseball was just one sport at the top of his list. He coached American Legion Post 47 baseball from 1956 to 1967 and won several zone championships. To further highlight his love of the game of baseball, Sam helped establish The Greater New Haven Diamond Club in 1980. Re-established as the Southern Connecticut Diamond Club in 2005, The Burrell Coach of the Year award, “named in honor of legendary coach Samuel A. Burrell, Jr.” is awarded during the annual “There’s No I In Team” banquet each June. The award honors an area high school coach whose team shows sportsmanship and a positive attitude, two essential ingredients to and about Sam.
Sam’s association with Yale University began with Jonathan Edwards College in 1966, when he became Head Tackle Football Coach for Yale’s intercollegiate football league. In 1968, he was appointed as an Associate Fellow in Jonathan Edwards College, one of the Yale’s residential colleges. Also in 1968, Sam was appointed as Yale Head Freshman Baseball Coach, thus becoming the first recorded black coach in the Ivy League. From 1969 to 1992, he coached freshman baseball and freshman football at Yale. In 1993, he was appointed a Yale Varsity Assistant Coach by Head Coach Carmen Cozza. After impacting the lives of thousands of Yale students, Sam retired from coaching in 1997. In 1996, Director of Athletics Thomas Beckett appointed Sam to serve as Community Outreach Coordinator of the Thomas W. Ford ’42 Outreach Program for the Yale Athletics Department.
Along with his association at Yale, Sam was a community builder in New Haven, serving many roles from the Director of the New Haven Parks and Recreation Department to teacher and PTO Liaison for the New Haven Board of Education. During the school year, he took his athletic talents to the field again, serving as Assistant Baseball Coach at Wilbur Cross High School and Head Varsity Baseball Coach for Hillhouse High School. Summers were spent building New Haven’s involvement in the U.S. Youth Games, a national program devoted to instilling teamwork, leadership, and academic commitment.
He was a past president of the Walter Camp Football Foundation, an organization founded to perpetuate the name of Walter Camp, who is regarded as the father of American college football. As a lifelong champion for students everywhere and a former school educator in New Haven Public Schools, Sam was the mastermind behind the Walter Camp Stay in School Rally, which promotes strong school attendance and academic achievement to middle school students from around the state. At the 2020 rally, they referred to Sam as the longest living member of Walter Camp, and during the 2022 Walter Camp Football Dinner, in absentia, Sam was honored for his 50 years of dedication to the Foundation.
In addition to athletics, Sam was a major figure in local politics. He was honored to serve as a member of the Hamden Legislative Council for 12 years and was President Pro Tempore of the Council. Sam was also an active member of the Chi Omicron Chapter of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity. He received their Man of the Year Award following his term as Chapter Basilius.
Sam was a lifelong member of the Dixwell Avenue Congregational Church in New Haven. As an active member of the church finance committee, Sam guided the church through both prosperity and some challenges caused by structural damage. Reverend Dr. Frederick Jerome Streets awarded Sam the Certificate of Dedication for God’s Work, and he will be officiating Sam’s funeral service. Son-in-law Allen Washington is serving as the family coordinator for the service.
Sam received many awards from all different organizations who acknowledged his endless and tireless contributions to thousands, if not millions of lives. Though it was an honor for him to receive these awards, his biggest honor was seeing his students and athletes become individuals who demonstrated a sense of integrity and pride, and to hear the voices of former students and athletes yell out to him, “Hey, Coach Burrell.”
A special thank you to his homecare team, Esther and Masiel, and his medical team at Midstate; Brianna, Sara, Orlando, Mike, and Steve, who went above and beyond to provide Sam with outstanding compassionate care. Son-in-law Don Fay also went above and beyond to assist with Sam’s daily care as his health declined.
The pride and love Sam showered on his family and the Yale-New Haven Community will forever serve as a beacon of love, guidance, and inspiration. Sam has been an inspiration and mentor to generations across the region.
Friends are invited to visit with Sam’s family on Friday, April 22nd from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. at BEECHER & BENNETT FUNERAL HOME, 2300 Whitney Ave., Hamden. All are invited to Sam’s Funeral Service on Saturday morning at 11:00 a.m. in Battell Chapel, 400 College St., New Haven, followed by his interment with Military Honors in St. Mary Cemetery, Hamden. To honor Sam’s legacy, contributions may be made to your choice of an organization that promotes Sam’s ideals.


Visitation: April 22, 2022 4:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Beecher & Bennett Funeral Service - Hamden
2300 Whitney Avenue
Hamden, CT 06518


Funeral Service: April 23, 2022 11:00 am

Battell Chapel
400 College Street
New Haven, CT 06511


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Memories Timeline


  1. Sending our condolences and deep sympathies to the family. We are very sorry for your loss.

    • Our VCH, Veterans Coffee House meets monthly at the Wlfd Senior Center which not only gives our Vets the chance to socialize but also take part in enjoying a guest speaker which are related to military topics, slide presentations and Q&A. Korean and Vietnam Veterans are our attendees and enjoy their time and wear their colors proudly.
      At this very difficult time, our group would like to honor the loss of Samuel Burrell Jr. as a fallen brother. Our military Veterans send out their heartfelt condolences to the Burrell family and friends. As an Medic Veteran, he had joined an elite group of honorable men and our Country will forever be in his debt. His service in the Korean War will be forever remembered. We honor his memory.

  2. My condolences to the Burrell family on Sam’s passing.

    Sam was my freshman baseball coach at Yale in 1969, his first year on the Yale Baseball staff. My teammates and I learned a great deal about baseball but also about kindness and warmth. Sam was the most personable individual I have ever met.

    The New Haven area has lost one of its great treasures. I am forever in his debt for the life lessons he provided.

  3. To the Burrell family,
    I had known Sam for about 60+ years throughout my tenure in the New Haven School System and the sports scene. He and his family were great assets to the New Haven and Hamden communities.
    I got to know Scott by covering Hamden High football during his outstanding play as quarterback and ran into him many times at Bella’s in New Haven while he serves as men’s bb coach at SCSU
    My sincere condolences to all and May Sam Rest In Peace. He will certainly be missed.

  4. So very sorry to hear of Sam’s passing. What a truly wonderful person. When God made Sam he threw away the mode. It seemed Sam was always, yes, always, doing something for someone else and contributing to his community in some way. I had the honor and privilege to work with Sam for many years and never did I see him without a warm smile. Whenever there was a need, Sam was willing to assist in some way. He will most certainly be sorely missed. Our deepest condolences to the entire family.

  5. Coach Burrell was a great inspiration to everyone that crossed paths with him. He was also so funny and entertaining. His memory was sharp for so long he would always see my mom and ask how I was doing. He was kind, generous and knew so much about the game of baseball. He was always enthusiastic about sports and life. What a brilliant and selfless man who dedicated his life to helping people. He made such a difference in the lives of many who will forever be grateful!! Rest in eternal peace coach!! Until we meet again!! My deepest condolences to the family!

  6. I was very fortunate to have crossed paths with Sam and his sister Charlotte. Sam and I were classmates and graduates of St Mary’s High School class of 1951. In my Home there is the picture of our graduating class, and I am proudly standing next to Sam. My deepest condolences to Charlotte and Sam’s family.

  7. Condolences to the Burrell Family. May you find comfort in lasting memories and hope in brighter tomorrows. Sorry for your loss.

  8. Jonathan Edwards College at Yale mourns the passing of the wonderful Sam. He was a beloved member of the Jonathan Edwards Common Room for decades and brought as many smiles to the faces of people there as he did in the wider community where he did so much for so many. Sam’s intelligence about people, caring, and kindness were infectious -and they lit up the common room. He could sit down at a table with any fellow and soon enough both were engaged in a deep conversation about things that mattered. He and I together would reminisce about Yale sports and people- and speculate on present ones as well. What a coach! and not just on the field. He will be greatly greatly missed by everyone in the community and at Yale – and I’ll never look around at the fellowship room without seeing him at the table where he usually sat and feeling my heart break a little at his absence.

  9. The legacy abounds in his contributions to other peoples lives. Mr. Burrell was part of the Community Outreach team which I fortunately was on (Yale Youth Day at the Bowl) .Listening, sharing and promoting ideas of how this day would be a success Mr. Burrell helped all of the members to lay out a foundation for all area teams and in particular youth from all communities of how we can all share and learn from from one another.
    I shared with him a story he found menaingful and he said it represented who his son Scott was. We had been to Myrtle Beach and were at a Bat give away night which had thunder storms and was cancelled . Two players were walking back to dressing room and one them was Scott. We told him how we had missed the first thousand bat give away and were headed back to Connecticut the next day. He said to my son ” here take my bat ” ! He handed it to my son who was estactic . Years later sharing the story at our monthly eeting for Youth Day Mr. Burrell said “get the bat to me ” and maybe Scott would autograph it”. Just another example of kindness and concern for young people and an example of his character , his own and that which passed on to his son.

  10. To dear Gert and the entire Burrell family, John & I send our sincere condolences over your loss. We both cherished the times we all sat together, watching Scott and our son John playing baseball from Tee Ball through high school.

  11. Dear family of Sam,
    I’m not going to be able to make the services so I wanted to take a moment to share my thoughts. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Sam for the past 40 years working and collaborating with him as members of the Walter Camp Football Foundation. He was always a gentleman with a passion for people that was evident the way people loved and respected him. Sam was comfortable whether he was addressing Royalty or the common man. He was always doing something for someone. There aren’t enough adjectives to describe him, he was simply a great man and will be deeply missed by all! My condolences. Sincerely John

  12. Every since I graduated from SCSC, Sam has been a presence in my life as well as his family. I really don’t know if I could have accomplished the things I’ve done without his guidance. This warm hearted gentleman showed me how to be a director and guided me into the, Youth Games, World Games Special Olympics, Sports Camp on the Green, NH Parks dept. as Deputy Director over youth and adult programs.
    I own a lot of my life to this wonderful man and his family.
    Sam, Burrell rest in peace and a job well done.
    To the Burrell Family……..Thank you, Thank You, Thank you.

  13. To Burrell Family,

    I wish to extend to you my heartfelt condolences on the passing of your Dear Father, Grandfather and Mentor.
    May God give you comfort , peace and strength during these difficult times.

    James E Huckabey Sr.& Family

  14. To the Burrell Family,
    Our deepest condolences to you upon the passing of Sam. Sam was a guiding light to us at Dixwell UCC Church. His ever present smile, full time encouragement and constant service lifted our spirits and provided a powerful example of Christian faith.
    May God provide you comfort today and in the coming days.
    Hiram and Patricia Brett

  15. My condolences to the family. Simply put, I loved this man. A true gentleman. He was liaison to the City Wide PTO when I was president. What fun, respect and guidance. Miss you already Sam but heavens got a good one!❤

  16. Sam was a wonderful human being, bringing people together for the benefit of the greater good. Sam is blessed as an esteemed member of our Football Hall of Fame, proudly along with sons Abbott and Scott. God Bless Sam – Be Well.
    Bill Santillo
    Pres. New Haven Gridiron Club

  17. Gary and I were very sorry to hear about Sam. We will miss seeing him at the SCSU games. Thinking of you all.

    Wendy (Zack’s mom)

  18. To Aunt Gert, Lynn (my god-sister), Abbott, Scotty,
    Aunt Gert, you and Uncle Sam were the best godparents I could have had as a child. I thought your house was so much fun of all the time!
    Lynn, I loved spending long weekends and spring vacation weeks at your house, which I thought was the country. You always had animals like ducks and rabbits – not just dogs – they were magical times.
    Abbott, you were younger than we were, but I remember you as well. You had no interest in playing with the girls. Occasionally, in desperation you’d come hang out, but usually you gave us a good distance when I was visiting. I’d love to see you now.
    Scotty, when my family and I left New Haven, you were a baby, less than a year old, I think.
    I have loved your whole family all my life, and it was so good to see Uncle Sam and Aunt Gert at my mother’s funeral in 2006. It was the last time I saw him in person, but he said we were going to take a godfather and goddaughter picture, and we did. I treasure it, and I’d love to share it with you.
    Aunt Gert, you and Uncle Sam always had room for more kids in your home, and I took full advantage. Thank you for your love, and endless generosity – I’m sure sometimes Lynn and I got to be a handful.
    Lynn, Abbott, Scotty you had one of those old school great dads – the kind you are always trying to live up to, and never wished to disappoint, but I will tell you he was proud of you always, and you were all he talked about – I mean besides sports. You were some of the luckiest kids I know. I’m a good judge of great family men and dad’s because I also have one, Bob Hill, and he was one of Uncle Sam’s best friends and his line brother when they pledged Omega Psi Phi in college.
    I’ll finish by saying I have only the best memories of my Uncle Sam. He was a great man, and he achieved his life’s ambition of coaching sports at Yale as well as doing charitable work with underserved, at-risk youth. On top of all that he produced three, fine, professional children – he didn’t lose one of you. That was perhaps the greatest accomplishment of all.
    I’ll miss you Uncle Sam, and I always loved you. You always let me know I was your goddaughter and special to you. Goodbye Uncle Sam.
    Your goddaughter,

  19. Sending our deepest condolences and lifting the entire family in our prayers.


    Mrs. Henry E. Parker (Jan)
    Ms. Janet R. Parker

  20. some people are easy to remember-SAM is one of them. his life proved there is a GOD.
    to Sam’s family, thank you for sharing him.

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