Dr. Walter Samuel Bounds

Published 3:53 pm Monday, June 20, 2022

Dr. Walter Samuel Bounds, 73, of Brookhaven MS, departed this life on June 16, 2022, at St. Dominic’s Hospital in Jackson with his wife by his side following complications from surgery. Sam began his journey on a four-mule farm in rural Smith County, on August 23, 1948. At a very early age, he learned the lasting value of hard work. Sam embraced his humble beginnings and the lessons he learned on the farm, the football field, and at Wilkinson Memorial Baptist Church, where he was baptized. These experiences shaped Sam’s life and laid a firm foundation for his future endeavors. At age 13, Sam lost his father, Shelby, and he began working after school and through the summers to help support his beloved mother, Georgia. Sam was a standout on the Raleigh High School football team and after graduating from high school in 1966, he attended Jones County Junior College where he dominated as a fierce defensive tackle, earning the distinction of Junior College All American in 1967. A huge turning point in Sam’s life was transferring to the University of North Carolina as an offensive tackle, where he honed his leadership skills as a Tar Heel Team Captain. All who knew Sam understand his deeply rooted love for Chapel Hill. Sam and Lisa chose the iconic Old Well on the UNC campus as the setting for their wedding, returning many times for sporting events. Most recently they attended the Final Four, where according to Sam, UNC came away with the title because they beat Duke. A lifetime member of the University of North Carolina Alumni Association, he was also inducted into the Jones County Junior College Sports Hall of Fame, an accolade he cherished. 

Sam first became Coach Bounds in 1970 as he graduated from UNC and accepted a coaching position at Greensboro Grimsley, the third largest high school in the state of North Carolina. Poised for a stellar life-long career in coaching, Coach Bounds returned home to Raleigh in 1976 to help care for his family after his brother was tragically killed. He accepted the position of Head Football Coach and Athletic Director and led the Raleigh Lions to the first bowl game in school history. He was a tough coach who loved his players, challenging them to “three-a-days” and promising to “make a man out of them.” He did; 10 former players from his 1976 – 78 Raleigh Lions teams will serve as his pall bearers. He was also very proud that during his tenure, he established the Little League Baseball Program in Raleigh. 

After moving to Monticello, MS, to become Athletic Director and Head Football Coach, he was named Coach of the Year, Southern Athletic Conference for 1979 and received the Jackson Touchdown Club Award. He transferred into administration, named as Principal of Monticello High School prior to moving to Kosciusko. There he served as Athletic Director and Head Football Coach and was named Coach of the Year by the MMAC in 1981. In 1986, Sam earned his Doctorate in Educational Administration and Supervision from Mississippi State University, graduating with honors. That same year, he became Principal of Clinton High School and was elected as President of the Mississippi Association of Secondary School Principals. Dr. Bounds served on the Steering Committee for the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the Delta Teachers Academy National Board, and was President of the Mississippi Association of Secondary School Principals. While Superintendent of the Brookhaven School District from 1994-2004, Dr. Bounds served as President of the Mississippi Association of School Superintendents, President of the Mississippi Council of Public Schools, and served on the Board of Governors for the Public Education Forum. Dr. Bounds also served as a board member for the Brookhaven Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce and Junior Achievement of Brookhaven. Dr. Bounds was a member of First Baptist Church and was very involved in the Brookhaven community in a variety of capacities. 

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In 2004, Dr. Bounds was selected as the Executive Director for the Mississippi Association of School Superintendents, and became as his family calls him, “The Superintendent of Superintendents.” As Executive Director of MASS, he had a profound effect on promoting excellence in education across the state and was a catalyst for educational progress. He was a founding member of the Coalition for Children in Public Education and treasured time spent traveling the state with Governor William Winter advocating for the children of Mississippi. The “Voice of Education” for 13 years, Dr. Bounds retired from MASS in the summer of 2017, after dedicating 45 years of his life to the field of education. 

It is an understatement to say that Dr. Sam Bounds had a big ego, but if you were lucky enough for him to bump into you, a piece of that self-confidence was imparted to you. Even larger than his ego, was his presence. His stature, magnetic 

personality and gregarious smile could captivate an entire room. From the farmhouse to the field house, from the schoolhouse to advocating in the State House, Sam Bounds understood how to communicate his message of an equitable and quality education for all children. He learned, fighting it out on the football field, that in order to win, the playing field must be level. He understood that there will always be a Sam Bounds in every classroom, just waiting on an opportunity to reach his full potential. 

Dr. Bounds never veered from his motto, “If you do what’s right for the children in your district, your decisions may not always be popular, but you will always be right.” He held exemplary standards, only expecting excellence, and promising to always “inspect what you expect.” He was unafraid to confront an issue or a person head-on and he worked diligently to find a solution that would best serve the students, players, coaches, teachers, and administrators under his leadership. Dr. Bounds’ true gifts were transformational leadership and an uncanny ability to recognize a budding potential in others, even when they did not see it in themselves. 

His legacy lives on in the countless lives he has shaped for the better by opening a door for them. He took pride in his accomplishments, but he was always quick to attribute any success in his life to his parents, to hard work, and ultimately to the Good Lord above. After retiring from MASS in the summer of 2017, he and Lisa completed a much anticipated driving trip to explore the last four states left on his quest to see all 50. He took on retirement just as he had taken on everything else in life, with a great zest and a joy for living, traveling to beaches and mountains, deserts, state capitals, enjoying concerts, festivals, and visiting little country stores. When Covid changed their travel plans, he and Lisa journeyed through the Bible together daily, beginning in Genesis and reading through Revelation. It was the adventure of a lifetime. Sam’s journey is not over. His legacy does not end. Quoting his own words, “over the past four decades, as Executive Director of MASS, Superintendent, Principal, Athletic Director, and Coach, I have been blessed to share life lessons with many people and I am humbled by the opportunities to have touched their lives in some way.” His legacy lives on in those who accept the challenge and pick up the torch. 

Visitation for Dr. Bounds is from five o’clock in the evening through seven o’clock at Brookhaven Funeral Home on Monday, June 20, 2022. Reverend Greg Warnock will officiate the funeral service to be held at the First Baptist Church of Brookhaven on Tuesday afternoon, June 21, 2022, at one o’clock. Later in the day, burial will be in his hometown of Raleigh at five o’clock in the evening at the North Raleigh Cemetery. Brookhaven Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements. 

Sam is preceded in death by his parents, Shelby and Georgia Bounds, his brother, James Albert Bounds, his sister-in-law, Marilyn Bounds, his niece, Dee Ann Bounds, all of Raleigh, MS, and his brother-in-law, Jack Colb of Dallas, TX. He is survived by his wife and soul-mate, Lisa; his much loved sister, Shelby Colb of Laurel, MS; children, Sarah Merriman of Houston, TX, Patrick Merriman of San Francisco, CA, and John Lake Merriman of Grenada, MS; his sister-in-law Julie Farrell and her husband, Jake, of Germantown, TN, and his niece, Caroline Farrell of Austin, TX; and many beloved students, athletes, friends and fellow educators throughout the state of Mississippi. 

Donations to honor his life may be made to the “Dr. Sam Bounds Memorial Scholarship,” in his memory. Please make gifts out to the Brookhaven School District, 326 East Court Street, Brookhaven, MS, 39601, to be placed in a designated collegiate scholarship fund for graduating seniors at Brookhaven High School.