"Kent Samuel is the poster boy for Southeastern athletics."
That quote is from Kent Pickens and seems to sum up the general consensus of friends from childhood, high school and college.
Samuel was Southeastern's first All-Conference golfer after an outstanding athletics career at Durant High School.
Pickens was another All-Conference golfer for the Savages who went on to become the softball coach at Durant High and lead the program to elite status.
Samuel will be inducted into the Southeastern Oklahoma State University Athletics Hall of Fame August 25.
Pickens said, "I always looked up to Kent. He was a very good role model and a great example of Southeastern athletics. He is just a great person who has had great success and has always been very humble.
"We were always kind of special friends because of our first names. I have been mistaken several times for Kent Samuel.
"The driver was his best club. He hit the ball low and straight, he was always consistent, never too high or too low, always stayed on an even keel. I'm really happy that he is going into the Southeastern Hall of Fame. I've been pushing this for a long time. He is very deserving."
Samuel was a standout athlete at DHS. He was the Most Valuable Player on the 1970 football Lions and the Best All-Around Athlete at Durant High School in 1971.
He was an All-District fullback and a tri-captain on the basketball team, earning All-Conference honors in both sports and was also a standout on the golf squad.
He wasn't perfect, though, because he once made a "B" in the third grade. Once. His only "B" in secondary education. He also once made a "B" at Southeastern. Once.
Durant optometrist Dr. Greg Clay and Samuel grew up together, all the way from first grade at Washington Irving to Durant High and a year at Southeastern.
"I got Kent started in golf when we were 11 years old," Clay said. "My dad (the late Dr. Joe Clay) would take us to the Durant Country Club just about every afternoon.
"I gave Kent his first set of clubs and I remember them well. They were from Sears and still had the wooden shafts. He started with a driver, 3-wood, 3-5-7-9 irons and a putter. Kent took to golf very quickly, like from zero to 60 in no time. He certainly passed me up quickly."
Clay recalled some of the golf trips in high school. There would be five players and coach Bill McCarson in one car. Cars were more rider-friendly in those days.
"Kent was one of the nicest people you will ever meet," Clay said. "He was outstanding in athletics and in the classroom. I played golf three years in high school with Kent and one year in college. I can remember we played one time at Hugo when they had sand greens."
Samuel was the all-around gold standard at Durant High, but never got involved in the political side of things.
Clay said, "He was never into politics or the (vocal) leadership stuff. His actions took care of the leadership. Any honors he received were earned. He never sought anything like that.
"Kent was just a cool guy. Everybody wanted to be like him. We were in the Boy Scouts together. He has gone on to be extremely successful in life and is still wearing people out on the golf course.
"I was thrilled to learn he was being inducted into the Southeastern Hall of Fame. He truly deserves this honor and I couldn't be happier for him."
Samuel married his high school sweetheart, Sue Seago, whom he dated through most of the high-school years. His mother and father, Dean and Ouita, still live in Durant.
"Sue and I have been married 40 years," Samuel said. "Our daughter, Kendle, is a first-grade teacher in the Conroe (Texas) School district."
After his career at Durant High, Samuel continued his athletic and academic achievements at Southeastern.
Along with being SE's first All-Conference golfer, he placed second in the conference championship tournament as a freshman.
Samuel was a three-time Scholar Athlete at Southeastern who completed his four years with a 3.91 grade-point average.
Beyond Southeastern, Samuel was a 4-time winner of the Durant Country Club's Little Dixie Classic, which was at the time the state's oldest amateur tournament.
His most-recent title was in the Senior Division of The Woodlands (Texas) Country Club Golf Championship. In between, Samuel claimed the 2007 Texas Legends Golf Championship-TPC Houston, and picked up second-and third-place finishes in The Woodlands CC club championship tournaments.
Samuel finished second in the 2011 Texas State Senior Fourball tournament and ninth in the U.S. Senior Challenge in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
After graduating from Southeastern, Samuel earned his CPA certificate and spent 25 years in the oil and gas business in Tulsa, Dallas, Omaha, Nebraska, and Houston. For the last 11 years, he has lived in The Woodlands (Texas) as a registered investment advisor. He served as CFO (Chief Financial Officer) for his last four energy companies.
William "Bebo" Dodd Jr. was another Durant High teammate.
He said, "We just all respected Kent and could count on him always doing the right thing all the time. Man, all of the locker rooms in football, basketball, golf trips . I remember one time all of us in junior high were cutting up, making fun of an assistant coach and Leonard Morgan would yell, "You honwocks!" and make us run laps.
"Kent was never involved in the mischief, but he got in trouble just because he was there. I visited Kent and Suzy a couple of times and we played a lot of golf. I didn't tell him, but it was funny to me with the tables turned, so to speak, in terms of golf.
"Here I was, the PGA Golf Pro playing better than Kent and helping him with his swing. I just thought, 'Wow, here is my old buddy that would beat me and everyone else to death at golf, had the perfect swing and great putting stroke.
"I thought about those days and how much I wanted to compete with him to no avail. He was just better and now, 30-plus years later, here I am with the upper hand. The whole thing was just humbling.'"
Boyd Robertson, another of Kent's teammates, is now working with a TV station in Los Angeles that carries the Dodgers baseball games. Robertson is in the booth with legendary broadcaster Vin Scully.
Robertson said, "For me, Kent Samuel not only played No. 1, he acted that way off the golf course. He was a consistent golfer, quiet leader and a wonderful teammate and friend to this day.
"As I look back and reflect about Kent on the golf course, whether it was a practice round or in tournament, his signature was if he made a bogey he would and could come back on the next hole and post a birdie better than any other player that I was around."
"That is the spirit of a great teammate that I will take with me the rest of my life. Kent going into the Hall of Fame reminds me of how special it must be for him and his wife Sue because they are home grown. I also want to mention our golf coach, Dr. Phil Dunham. He was a huge part of the golf team. It was an honor to play for coach Dunham and Southeastern.
"Congratulations, Kent, well done."
Samuel recalled his first year at Southeastern. "I don't know if that was the highlight of my golf career at Southeastern, but I finished second in the conference tournament as a freshman.
I was leading until the last group completed its round, leaving me one stroke behind the leader.
"I've been a registered investment advisor for the last 11 years, but my hobby is still golf. I still enjoy competing and I play about 25-30 tournaments a year in events like the Texas Golf Association, Houston City and TransMiss Senior Championships, along with many tournaments held at my country club, The Woodlands.
"My all-time low round is 66 and I still shoot in the 60s two or three times a year. My handicap is zero at The Woodlands.
"Perhaps the most important thing I learned playing golf at Southeastern was how many great golfers there were and that I'd better learn something in class because I wasn't going to make a living playing golf."
Kent Samuel will be inducted into the Southeastern Oklahoma State University Athletics Hall of Fame at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, August 25.
A reception for the four inductees will begin at 4:30 in the Visual and Performing Arts Center. Kent will join Natalie Brown (basketball), Charles Gulley (football and track,) and Cary Ammons (baseball.)
For tickets or information, phone the SE athletics office at 580-745-2250.