VINCENNES, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — Along Main Street in Vincennes, in the front room of The Open Gallery, you’ll find Sam Williams.
Sam is a an Air Force veteran, a retired semi-driver, a husband, a father, and so much more: but above all, Sam is a man of faith.
“On February 11, 1939, on the 71st anniversary of the first apparition at Lourdes, I was born,” Sam shared.
Sam’s said his feeling of connection to Mary has continued throughout his life.
“It seemed like I had Our Lady behind me, helping me along,” Sam shared. “There’s times I’d wake up and I’d be praying.”
As a teenager at the St. Meinrod Seminary in southern Indiana, Sam created his first tangible connector to Mary; a rosary.
“Father Shaughnessy, who used to be here, his brother is the one that taught me, Pat Shaughnessy,” Sam recalled. “And on and off I’ve been making them ever since.”
Seven decades of rosaries, including a special one Sam made for his dad, who then passed it on to another family member heading overseas.
“He gave it to my brother Jim when he went into the Navy back in the 60s,” Sam said. “I put a new crucifix on it a year ago. He carried it in a submarine around the world many times.”
Jim wouldn’t be the only Williams son to serve; Sam enlisted in the Air Force after high school graduation, meeting his wife Virginia while stationed at Lowery Air Force Base in Denver.
Sam’s role in the Air Force was one he said he wasn’t exactly prepared for.
“The site was on the end of the Damascus Road on the Black Sea,” Sam recalled. “I was a radio operator; when I went into service my recruiter told me ‘don’t go in with any idea of what you want to do’, and being a country farm boy, he came out and said ‘radio operator’ and I said ‘huh?!’. I said ‘okay’.”
Sam trained on a typewriter and perfected his typing craft much like he has perfected his craft of making and repairing handmade rosaries – one bead at a time.
Sam has made more than 1,000 rosaries now, donating them as mission rosaries to schools, hospitals and churches around Knox County,
“I donate rosaries to the churches, mission rosaries, because the mission starts at home,” Sam said.
Sam also has sent handmade rosaries across the globe; he has 50 rosaries in Ukraine, 50 in India and 47 in South America.
Sam said the rosaries can take anywhere from an hour and a half to six hours to make. Before he starts crafting the rosaries each morning, he turns on a CD player and has his own prayer time.
He prays, and he listens, for that voice he’s heard for most of his life.
“I think I had a calling,” Sam said, smiling. “Just look around, you’ll find I think I’ve answered it pretty well.”
Sam is set up at The Open Gallery most weeks from Tuesday-Saturday. He also makes special rosaries on request.