Michael “Sammy” Samuelson may be best remembered as a professional and collegiate sports fan and heckler but he also put many hours in on disability issues in St. Paul. He died Jan. 28 after a long battle with squamous cell skin cancer and blood cancer. Services were held Feb. 1 at the Church of St. Francis Cabrini in Minneapolis. Arrangements were by Willwerscheid Funeral Home in St. Paul.
Samuelson worked on disability issues including accessibility. He was very involved in recent City of St. Paul discussions of sidewalk café access, raising concerns about how allowing such cafes could impede pedestrians with disabilities.
Though living with multiple medical issues and conditions, Samuelson said he always “enjoyed life every day”, and it showed in his joy and enthusiasm. At the age of 11 he received his first kidney transplant at the U of M Hospital. That was in 1966. He had subsequent kidney transplants in 1974 and 2005. He survived aggressive squamous cell skin cancer and underwent amputation of his arm and shoulder. In 2012 he was diagnosed with blood cancer.
He was a longtime community organizer in Minneapolis and St. Paul neighborhoods and worked for the rights and needs of the poor, the disenfranchised, and people with disabilities. He also worked in housing programs and code enforcement for several cities, including Richfield, Brooklyn Park, and Maplewood.
He is survived by his wife, former St. Paul City Council Member Kiki Sonnen, his mother, four siblings, and many aunts, uncles, cousins and friends. Memorials are preferred to Minnesota Twins Community Fund.