About Fred Sampson
Fred has been associated with the foodservice industry all of his life. His late father, George Sampson, was considered one of the country’s most outstanding Maitre D’s, a position he held at various hotels including the Bellevue-Stratford in Philadelphia. Fred’s father and mother were involved in a small restaurant in Philadelphia and it was here that Fred worked after school and weekends learning the basics. He continued working in the restaurant until he was introduced into the Army in 1945. He immediately was assigned to the Food Service Department where he directed the Officer’s Mess and Club at the Indiantown Gap Military Reservation in Pennsylvania. In 1946 he was transferred to the Caribbean Theatre where he was again responsible for the food service of an Air-Sea Rescue Unit attached to the Air Force.
Upon his discharge in the spring of 1947, he planned to attend college at Columbia University to receive a journalism degree, however, due to internal problems with the family business, he returned to assist his father in managing the restaurant. In 1948, he met his wife, Shirley, and in a little less than 2 years they were blessed with two sons, Steven and Rick. In 1950 the family business was sold which lead Fred to pursue a career in the foodservice industry. His first outside employment was with the old Slater System, the forerunner of Automatic Retailers of America. In 1952 he was appointed Director of FoodService for the Central WMCA’s of Philadelphia. He stayed until 1955 when he accepted the position of Director of Food Service for Temple University, also located in Philadelphia.
In 1956, due to his tremendous interest as an active member of the Philadelphia and Pennsylvania Restaurant Associations, the State Association appointed him Executive Vice-President. During his tenure with the Pennsylvania Restaurant Association, their membership grew from 618 to 1125 members. He helped establish four additional chapters and assisted in the development of a very formidable legislative action group.
In 1959 he decided to return to the foodservice industry and accepted the position as Vice President and General Manager for the Dutch Pantry Chain which at that time consisted of about 25 outlets in Pennsylvania and Florida. After almost two years with the Dutch Pantry, Fred found that he missed the tempo, diversity and challenge of the trade association field, so in 1961, when Janet Daniels retired as Executive Vice President of the New York State Restaurant Association, Fred accepted the offer to come to New York to take over. By this time Fred and Shirley were blessed with two baby girls, Debbie and Melissa.
NYSRA was mostly a downstate organization. Fred’s first assignment was to do something about it and through the tremendous support of the Board of Directors, things started to happen. The Westchester County Restaurant Association merged with the State Association, a Chapter was then started in the Southern Tier, Mid-Hudson and Syracuse areas. By the time the Association opened its first convention and exposition in Syracuse in June of 1965, the Association’s membership had gone from 220 to 700 and from one chapter in New York City to 8 chapters, which now included Chautauqua, Rochester, and the Long Island Caterers Association.
The last 20 years have seen the growth and influence of the Association prosper. Its voice in the legislative forums at the city, county, state and federal levels now listened with great respect. Its credentials with government agencies and the industry at large are impeccable. Most important, its credibility with its membership is excellent. It truly is the voice of the restaurant industry in New York State. The Association now has 15 chapters across the state, as well as three business offices and membership is up to 7,500. Fred realizes that without his patient wife, Shirley, who tolerated his traveling almost 30,000 miles per year throughout the state that he could not have enjoyed these past thirty-five years. The Sampson’s now reside in Belvidere, New Jersey.