He was born Sept. 4, 1939, in Brazil, to the late Ray E. and V. Pauline (Ames) Parsons.
He graduated from Van Buren High School in Clay County in 1957 and played on the varsity basketball team.
He married Jane Evans in 1961 and they divorced. In 1984, he married Nancy Steinhauer. She preceded him in death Feb. 21, 2003.
Dr. Parsons enjoyed going to museums, fishing and watching sports, especially Purdue Women's Basketball, where he was a board member and newsletter editor of the BOILERmaker NETwork.
Dr. Parsons receives his B.S. in Agricultural Engineering from Purdue University in 1961. In 1964, he earned his M.S. degree in Agricultural Engineering at Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., and his Ph.D., from Michigan State University, East Lansing, Mich., in 1975.
From 1961-63, Sam Parsons was a design engineer at Cummins Engine Company, Columbus, Ind. He was a Graduate Research Assistant at Cornell University in 1963-64. His long 37-year career in the Agricultural Engineering Dept. at Purdue University started in 1964 as an assistant professor. In 1969, he became a graduate research assistant, in 1972, an assistant professor, in 1975, an associate professor, and in 1984, a professor. Dr. Parsons earned his Registered Professional Engineers License (Indiana) in 1973. Upon retirement in 2001, the Purdue University Board of Trustees awarded him the status of Professor Emeritus of Agricultural and Biological Engineering.
While at Purdue, Dr. Parsons' major extension emphasis was in the area of farm machinery management -- the selection and utilization of field crop machinery, such as tractors, and included site-specific farming applications, mapping and GIS. He developed extension publications and educational materials and delivered them to extension clientele through the mass media, group meetings, tours, field days, shows and individual consultations. His research activities in later years focused on farm computer utilization, especially for site-specific farming, tillage, traction and compaction, matching tractors and implements and machinery sizing.
Dr. Sam Parsons was author of, and contributor to more than 167 magazine articles in the popular farm press (Prairie Farmer, Hoosier Farmer, Hoard's Dairyman, Farm Journal, Soybean Digest, Successful Farming), 67 extension publications, more than 120 mimeos (informational handouts for field days and extension programs), 18 refereed journal articles and some 50 technical papers for multi-state or national meetings.
Several honors and awards were bestowed upon Dr. Parsons during his academic career. In 1986, he received the Eric G. Sharvelle Award as the Distinguished Purdue University Extension Specialist. In 2001, he received the PUCESA Award for Purdue University Peer Recognition. Also in 2001, he received a Certificate of Excellence, American Society of Agronomy, National Educational Materials Awards Program for the booklet, "Precision Farming Profitability." From the ASAE Blue Ribbon Awards, National Educational Aids Competition, he won a total of 33 awards 1967-2001, for 57 self-entries in various categories. Sam Parsons held U.S. Patent 4,228,637, a hay treatment device, as co-inventor in 1980.
Dr. Parsons was a member of St. Andrews United Methodist Church, West Lafayette. Other organizations to which he held memberships were the American Society of Agricultural Engineers, Purdue University Cooperative Extension Specialists Association, Association of Agriculture Computing Companies, Indiana Farm Management Association, Tau Beta Pi honor society in Engineering, Epsilon Sigma Xi honor society in Research, John Purdue Club, Purdue Alumni Association, Friends of Convocations, Civic Theater of Tippecanoe County and Purdue Retirees Association.
Through Purdue's Cooperative Extension Service, he served on the Exhibit Planning Committee at the Farm Progress Show for many years.
Surviving are sons Samuel D. Parsons Jr., Seymour, Ind., and William E. Parsons (wife Audrey), Scottsdale, Ariz., sisters Phyllis Fipps, Orange, Calif., and Nelda Rohrbach (husband Lloyd), Zionsville, Ind., stepdaughters Susan White (husband Brian), Athens, Ga., and Elizabeth "Betsy" Davis (husband Steve), Toledo, Ohio, stepson John "Chris" Steinhauer (wife Debra), Lafayette, grandson Pvt. Jordan Adams, U.S. Army, step-grandchildren Wendy and Austin White, and special friend, Peg Michael.
A memorial visitation will be from 12:30 p.m., until a 3 p.m. memorial service Saturday, April 18, 2009, at Soller-Baker Lafayette Chapel, 400 Twyckenham Blvd., Lafayette.
Those wishing may contribute to either the Sam Parsons Memorial Fund C/O American Brain Tumor Association, 2720 River Rd., Des Plaines, Ill., 60018, or St. Elizabeth Hospice, 1415 Salem St., Suite 202, W. Lafayette, 47904.
Condolences may be offered at www.soller-baker.com