“Do What You Can, Where You Are, With What You Have.”
– Teddy Roosevelt
Overcoming seemingly insurmountable challenges – personal and otherwise, with courage, commitment and competence has been the hallmark of Sam Bennetts life. Her faith and family helped her transform those challenges into the many blessings she enjoys today with her marriage, children and grandchildren, civic, church, public service and business life.
The biggest influences in my life were my grandfathers – Timothy “T.R.” Loizeaux and O.W. “Bud” Bennett. From both Sam Bennett learned the importance of public service, politics and giving back. From both she inherited leadership, entrepreneurial and creative problem solving abilities. Today she seeks to follow in the footsteps of her grandfather Bennett who was Mayor of Piscataway, NJ.
“T.R.” was a beloved local businessman, civic leader and philanthropist. He inspired in Sam a deep and abiding Christian faith – that giving back of the much we are blessed with is a requirement, not an option. If her entrepreneurial abilities come directly from “T.R.” – her passion for social justice, politics and women’s rights from his daughter, her remarkable mother, Ellen Loizeaux.
O.W. “Bud” Bennett is remembered as the longest serving national director of Cub Scouts in scouting history, talented cartoonist and puppeteer, and Mayor of Piscataway N.J. Sam Bennetts life has remarkably followed his from both our early careers as cartoonists and advertising executives, to serving as national non-profit CEOs, to our desire to serve our communities as Mayors. From his wife, Hope and his son, Sams talented father David R. Bennett comes her love of singing, art and academic achievement.
Growing up Sam Bennett lived all over the world, including Saigon Vietnam in 1969 after the Tet Offensive. Sams step-father, “Big” John Hayes, the former administrator of Duke University Medical Center, was the first chief of the Barsky Unit, which performed plastic surgery on war injured children.
Ultimately, Sam Bennett attended thirteen schools by the time she was in tenth grade. The one constant for her little sister, brother and Sam were summers and Christmases at Le Nid D’Loiseau “The Nest of the Birds” (formerly Blue Haven) where grandpa “T.R.” Loizeaux had a home overlooking the renowned Beaverkill River, famous for its trout fishing. When my mother Ellen and step-father Mike passed away in 2012 Sam took over the care and restoration of this wonderful property.
Sam Bennett fell in love with Allentown in 1986. Sams first husband Jeffrey R. Tipping, former professional with Allentown based Pennsylvania Stoners and masters degree from Lehigh University was hired to be Muhlenberg College’s new soccer coach. They came to Allentown with their two young daughters, Emma and Rachael, from Oneonta, NY – where Sam had graduated from high school and a Regent’s Scholar from the State University of Oneonta and where Jeffrey had been an assistant coach and graduate of nearby Hartwick College.
Despite realtors telling us “no one wanted to live in Allentown” Sam fell in love with its tree lined streets, schools children could walk to, magnificent churches, glorious outdoor art, unmatched park system, Symphony Hall and Art Museum, and remarkably preserved historic architecture. They purchased “Monk” and Dolly Rabenold’s former home at 2334 Livingston Street in 1986.
Divorcing in 1992 but committed to raising the girls together, Jeffrey and Sam each re-married terrific partners. Jeffrey married Christine and Sam, Martin Ulloa Estrada of Phoenix, Arizona an attendee of Yale, with a Masters from Wharton who had come to the Lehigh Valley to work for Dun and Bradstreet. Martin and Sam just enjoyed their 20th wedding anniversary in 2015.
In 1999, Martin and Sam purchased the foreclosed on, increasingly dilapidated Historic Benner Mansion. After fifteen years of hard work it is now Allentown’s first and still only bed and breakfast and they are its Owner Innkeepers. David, their youngest, was born in 2002 and following in his sisters’ footsteps will graduate from William Allen High School in 2020. In addition to their wonderful three children, they are blessed with two grandchildren, two grand-puppies, two wonderful sons-in-law and a cherished extended family that gathers every two years at family reunions.
Sams faith is personally very important to her and instrumental in her healing from trauma sustained in her early life. Originally a member of Grace Episcopal Church in downtown Allentown, after Sams divorce she transferred her membership to First Presbyterian Church in Allentown – home to the first woman ordained Presbyterian minister Margaret Towner in 1955. When that church, so important to the history of Allentown, eliminated their tradition of women in the senior pastoral team – Sam returned to her Episcopalian roots and joined Episcopal Church of the Mediator led by the remarkable Rev. Canon Maria W. E. Tjeltveit.
A dedicated tomboy growing up, Sam Bennett still enjoy being physically fit. Daily walks in Allentown gorgeous parks with our Miniature Australian Shepard, Oakley, famous for her Frisbee catching abilities. The daily fifty pushups and one hundred sit ups Sam mastered as an ROTC Ranger. Hatha Yoga headstands and postures Sam has made daily practice since high school.
The continuing restoration of both The Historic Benner Mansion and thier Beaverkill, NY family home is a treasured pastime along with reading books and watching movies. Sams husband and her delight in dining at Allentown’s traditional, new and ethnic restaurants and diners including wine tastings with The American Wine Society, chaired by Percy Doughtery. Above all, time with family provides Sams greatest enjoyment in life.
Having lived all over the world. Knowing first hand that there is no challenge – personal or otherwise – that cannot be overcome with enough hard work, persistence and creative problem solving. Believing in the importance of giving back from the much we have been blessed with. These are the reasons why Sam loves living in Allentown, have chosen to raise a family there over the past thirty years – and now run for Mayor.
“I have known Sam since she ran for Congress in 2008 and then served as CEO for WCF and SSR, where I served as Treasurer to the Board of Directors. In a world where partisan politics have created nothing but gridlock, and where elected officials seem to have forgotten that their constituents elected them to represent them and work for their interests, Sam is a living reminder of the best of what our representatives have to offer: she is smart, sensible, and most importantly you can rely on two things - she will work hard for you, and she cares.”
— Jennifer Marre - Managing Director, Associate General Counsel, U.S. Trust; Former Board Treasurer Women's Campaign Fund and She Should Run