Samuel Mockbee

[December 23, 1944 - December 30, 2001]

Samuel "Sambo" Mockbee dedicated his life, as a teacher, an architect and an artist, to the goal of providing "shelter for the soul." His inspirational and authentic architecture served to improve the lives of the most impoverished residents of rural Alabama through his work with Auburn University Rural Studio. In September of 1998, Sambo was diagnosed with leukemia. The illness slowed him down, but he remained committed to the aspirations and ideals of the Studio. In December 2001, he died of complications from the disease. He is survived by his wife Jackie and four children: Margaret, Sarah Ann, Carol and Julius. Despite his renown, Sambo remained modest and resolutely “down-home” until his death. He was a charmer with a quick wit and thick Southern drawl. He cast a spotlight on an aspect of our culture that most avoid while demonstrating that socially responsible architecture can delight the senses, inspire the masses and serve the soul. For his work at Rural Studio, Mockbee received the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant” in 2000 and was posthumously awarded the AIA Gold Medal in 2004.

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