Mary Katherine Sams Wiley

Mary Wiley

Mary Katherine Sams Wiley (Kathie) was born in San Antonio, Texas on May 28, 1930 to Lillian Harris Kirk Sams and William Columbus Sams, II. She died peacefully at home in Houston, Texas on March 21, 2021 with her devoted husband of 72 years, Ray, at her side. Kathie was predeceased by her parents, sisters Audrey Kirk Stumberg, Marian Kirk Graves, Coralie Kirk Elvin, and a baby girl who died shortly after birth. Survivors include her husband, brother William C. Sams, III, three daughters and sons-in-law Marilyn Wiley (Terrance Skantz), Ellen Bywaters (John), and Carol Cassella (Steve), ten grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Kathie was a brilliant, graceful, and caring woman who deftly balanced her beloved family with her insatiable intellectual curiosity. With three children under seven, she returned to college, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nuclear physics. She was awarded a Phi Beta Kappa key and a National Science Foundation fellowship while never missing a child’s piano or dance recital.  After a year teaching physics at Highland Park High School, Dallas, she started a successful computer company providing data analysis for oil and gas producers.

Kathie loved mountains and wild rivers as much as foreign travel, art museums, and high tea shared with her daughters. In 1977 she and Ray left their University Park home to live on a sailboat, touring ports from New York to Guatemala. They moved to the Clear Lake area of Houston in 1979 where Kathie volunteered her time to numerous charitable organizations, her church, and unpaid research at M.D. Anderson Hospital, while also enjoying her grandchildren and caring for ailing family members. She was fearless in the face of rocky trails and roller coasters, and always believed she could achieve anything if she tried.

A memorial service will be held on Friday, April 16 at Clear Lake Presbyterian Church. Due to the pandemic, seating is limited, and the service will be livestreamed. In lieu of flowers, she requested donations to the Katherine Sams Wiley Physics Scholarship Endowment Fund at SMU, a scholarship she created to encourage other young women to succeed in science. Online, select "other" then type in "The Katherine Sams Wiley Physics Scholarship Endowment Fund " or call 1-800-768-9996.