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George's passion made people comfy

Whitsunday Times - 18th August 2011 8:54 AM

IMPORTANT PART:The late George Sampson with his fleet of buses. George was influential in the bus system in the Whitsundays and was very passionate about the region.

GEORGE Sampson, a man who was passionate about the Whitsundays and was a key player in the public bus system, died on August 1.

He was aged 80.

Mr Sampson bought a run down bus service in the Whitsundays in 1982 and put his heart and soul into the business as he had done for passengers across Australia.

The father of four girls bought new buses to improve the Whitsunday service and then continued buying them, according to his daughter Annette.

"We could never have a pool because he had a new bus coming," she said.

"He promoted the Whitsundays endlessly all over Australia visiting travel agents and he played videos in his buses in WA. He had videos professionally made on the Whitsundays. His passion was to make people happy."

School children were high on his list of priorities as he tried to make all bus stops safe for the children so they didn’t have to cross the road, like crossing Shute Harbour Road at Brandy Creek and Mt Marlow.

He also paid for truck loads of gravel to fill in pot holes in the area. George continued the business in the Whitsundays for 16 years before selling it to the Crossley family who now operate as Whitsunday Transit.

He moved around NSW, SA and WA working with buses and was known for his commitment to improving passenger comfort. He was one of the first in the country to install air-conditioning and toilets on his buses.

George’s life was celebrated by family and friends in NSW on August 5.

George Burton Sampson (1930 - 2011)

Shoalhaven Cemetery

Noted bus industry identity George Sampson died 1 Aug 2011, aged 80, after battling cancer.

Transit Systems Director Lance Francis says Sampson was well known and respected by many bus owners throughout Australia, and many in the bus industry will mourn his passing.

“He was among the first if not the first to order a touring coach with air-conditioning,” Francis says.

Ever the innovator, Sampson is also credited with being among the first to fit on-board toilets on his coaches, and in later years installed bin alarms so that bin doors couldn’t be inadvertently left open.

The centre of Sampson’s operations was based at Shoalhaven on the NSW south coast near his property at Huskisson.

His bus operation enterprises spread to the Whitsundays in Queensland, and more recently to Kalgoorlie where he owned and operated Gold Rush Tours.

Sampson was also a director of Swan Transit in Perth.

Francis says Sampson was still active at Gold Rush Tours prior to his illness and travelled regularly to Kalgoorlie, and kept in daily contact with the WA operation’s management.

His financial interests also extended to owning industrial property in Nowra, Kalgoorlie and Sydney.

Sampson is survived by his wife Faye.

A true pioneer is farewelled

By JEFF STEPHENSON Aug. 7, 2011, 10:21 p.m.
South Coast Register

HEART OF GOLD: George Sampson.HEART OF GOLD: George Sampson.
DYNAMIC Nowra bus magnate George Sampson has been remembered as a generous man and a true pioneer of the bus industry in the Shoalhaven.

Mr Sampson died last week at the age of 80.

A crowd of more than 400 mourners – including several from Kalgoorlie – paid their respects at his funeral on Friday.

Mr Sampson operated from an office in Nowra and, after selling all his Shoalhaven and other interests, concentrated solely on his vast Kalgoorlie operation – one he purchased in 1994 and strategically turned into a thriving business.

The Kalgoorlie venture started with a fleet of four buses.

Today it operates 46 buses and coaches providing tours from Kalgoorlie and servicing the northern goldmines.

His buses transport 3000 miners a day to the goldfields and include the largest privately-owned five-star fleet in Western Australia.

The Kalgoorlie depot employs 12 full-time and more than 40 casual staff.

Former South Coast MP John Hatton, delivered the eulogy.

He told the congregation Mr Sampson, whom he had known for more than 50 years, was a man of great integrity and an eminently fair employer.

“George was a true pioneer in his field, he was honest and a hard-working businessman who achieved amazing things,” Mr Hatton said.

His daughter Annette Sampson-Benn said her father was “a generous man” who cared for everyone in the community.

She said it seemed the door to their Huskisson home “was always open”.

“Dad would pick up hitchhikers in his bus and if they had nowhere to stay he’d bring them home for the night.

“He hated seeing anyone doing it tough,” she said.

She recalled him buying buckets of ice-cream for children.

“He’d take a busload of children to the pictures and I’d walk up and down the aisle handing out lollies.

“He was just so kind.”

Mrs Sampson-Benn said she remembered him stopping to pick up someone on the road once.

“He told Dad he didn’t have any money to pay him, but Dad said that didn’t matter and to just hop on.

“That’s what he was like.”

The general manager of Goldrush Tours-GRT Minesite Transfers, Guy Brownlee, described Mr Sampson as “honest, very considerate and fair”.

“He was a quiet achiever in the bus industry, but in saying that was one of its most noted characters,” Mr Brownlee said.

“He was a people person – a fantastic bloke.”

“Don’t get me wrong he was the type of guy that if you upset him he could cut you to the quick.

“But if you earned his praise you always felt on top of the world.”

Mr Brownlee said he was always amazed when Mr Sampson made one of his regular trips from Nowra across to Kalgoorlie.

“He would make a point of saying good morning to everyone in the depot.

“If they had a story to tell he would stop to listen.”

Mr John Kennedy of Kennedy’s Bus and Coach in Nowra said Mr Sampson was way ahead of his time.

“His foresight was unbelievable,” Mr Kennedy said.

He described Mr Sampson as “old school”.

“If he said he’d do something he’d do it.

“He was a true gentleman.”

Mr Sampson was born in Paddington in 1930 and drove buses in the Camden district.

He started Southern Fish Transport with Les King in 1957 and when, in 1959, he purchased the Huskisson Bus Service from Mrs L Dent, a new era was on the rise.

He restarted the Jervis Bay run to Nowra and in the late 1960s set up Sampson’s Tours and spread further with the acquisition of buses in Sussex Inlet, St Georges Basin and then Kiama Coaches from the Smiley family with partner Tony Hawks in the late 1970s.

Mr Sampson acquired a North Queensland operation at Proserpine from Lou Hart in 1982 – a business that was severely run down, but which operated successfully for the next 16 years under his stewardship.

Smile Crocodile Tours and Australian Panorama Tours started in Sydney and Mr Sampson was a partner in that venture as well as Swan Transport and Australian Transport Enterprises operating Adelaide and Perth metropolitan buses.

He sold all his interests in the 1990s, but maintained his Kalgoorlie operation.

Mr Sampson is survived by his wife Faye and children Verlinda and Ed, Loreen, Annette and Des and Sandra as well as several grandchildren and great grandchildren.