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Sam McCleskey

Sam McCleskey, of Memphis, Tenn., graduated from the Vanderbilt School of Engineering 1951 with a degree in civil engineering. The Naval ROTC program at Vanderbilt began the year he entered college, and paid for his education.

Within two days of graduating, Sam received his Navy commission. In 1954 he was honorably discharged after serving three years on two different ships. He returned to Memphis, where he worked as an independent surveyor for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In 1956 he became a construction engineer with Gulf Oil Co. in Louisiana. Two years later he was hired as vice president of construction for the J.C. Milne Co., a Portland, Ore.-based company seeking to expand its business into New Orleans. There he learned the business of mausoleum construction.

In 1961 he started the McCleskey Construction Co., with special strength in designing and building mausoleums. At the same time he opened an architectural engineering division, McF Architects, and in 1963 he moved his company’s home office to Atlanta.

McCleskey was active in the funeral industry in Atlanta and on a national level. He was one of only six people inducted into the Suppliers Hall of Fame for the cemetery and funeral industry. He has served on the boards of directors of the Georgia Cemetery Association, the Southern Cemetery Association and the National Association of Cemeteries. 

McCleskey created the McCleskey Honor Scholarship in 1998 to help engineering students who exhibit well-rounded characteristics and interests. He has also served as a member of the School of Engineering campaign committee and was chair of the Class of ’51 Reunion in 2001. He is a longtime member of the Lewis Society.

Sam and his wife, Arden, live in Destin, Fla. He still serves as chairman of his companies and recently finished his term as president of the Gulf Pines Board of Directors. He and Arden have three children, seven grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.