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Samuel M. Brody, 96

Samuel Meyer Brody of Westport died April 2 in Bridgeport. He was 96.

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Sam Brody: advertising executive.  Contributed photo

Sam was a larger than life character who belonged to everyone he met.

Born in 1921 to Russian Jewish immigrants, he survived the Great Depression, World War II and went on to be a pioneer in the glory days of advertising on Madison Avenue.

During the Great Depression, Sam witnessed the eviction of his family. The two-bedroom apartments they lived in for the next several years were crammed full, not only with Sam’s family and their beloved dog, but two uncles, his mother’s younger brothers.

Sam recalled how the beds in the house never got cold. He and his brothers slept in them at night. His uncles, who worked the nightshift, slept in them during the day.

His family made it through the Depression by everyone pulling together.

When Sam was 11 or 12, his sister pushed him into the Boy Scouts, to keep him out of trouble. He attributed his Scout training, in part, to saving his life a decade later when he became a prisoner of war in the final days of World War II.

By the early 40s, the family was financially stable enough again that Sam was able to enter college, hoping to become an engineer. But when the United States entered the war, Sam left college to enlist in in the Army in 1943.

In 1944, he was sent to France on D Day Plus 66. As a frontline radio operator and reconnaissance specialist, he soon experienced the horrors of war firsthand when captured by Germans while scouting, ahead of his platoon.

His enlistment, military service, and time spent as a prisoner of war, were recorded in Joel L. Freedman’s excellent documentary, “Sam’s War, a GI’s Journey,” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e9q7bD1r25I).

After the war, Sam met Brooklyn Native, Cecile “Ceil” Bergman, a ballerina, who was a very bright, poised and intelligent young woman. They were married not long afterwards on March 3, 1951.

Sam and Cecile left Brooklyn, moving with their toddler son, Adam and new born daughter, Jill, to Long Island. Living the good life and the American dream in the suburbs. Sam commuted to Manhattan, pursuing a career in the fast-paced world of advertising on Madison Avenue.

During his over 45-year career as an artists’, photographers’, and TV commercial production companies’ representative and producer, he became an industry-wide institution. He was the guy who could find the perfect talent, to produce just the right results, at just the right price.

He was still working his magic in Fairfield County, even after he retired. He could be found all over Westport schmoozing, entertaining, meeting people, and through him, people met each other. He was “Linked-In” personified, well before it became an online institution.

After raising a family and over 45 years of marriage, Sam and Cecile agreed it was time to separate. They remained good friends, caring and supporting each other until Cecile’s death in 2014.

For most people, that would be the end of the story. But, Sam Brody was not most people. At age 90, he found love again with Nancy Conte. They met at the Unitarian Church of Westport. They spent Sam’s last six years together, laughing and loving and were together right up to his final breath.

The truth about Sam was he loved people. He loved everything about humanity and life. He belonged to everyone who met him and they belonged to him.

Sam is survived by his loving partner Nancy Conte; daughter Jill Brody and son Adam Brody.

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