Samuel Robert D’Amico

March 12, 1918 – April 7, 2018

The Rev. Canon Samuel Robert D’Amico, retired rector of St. James Church, Los Angeles, and founder of its parish school, died April 7 at age 100.

A requiem Eucharist will be celebrated by Bishop Suffragan Diane Jardine Bruce on Saturday, April 14 at 9 a.m. at St. George’s Church, 23802 Avenida De La Carlota, Laguna Hills (949.837.4530).

His wife Virginia died in 2014 after 68 years of marriage. Survivors include his daughter, Ginger Conway, and sons Roberto and Tony.

D’Amico was the longest-serving priest in the Diocese of Los Angeles. He most recently assisted at St. George’s Church, Laguna Hills, where he helped found St. George’s Academy (now closed), and served for a time as its headmaster. He also was a co-founder of St. John’s School in Rancho Santa Margarita.

From 1982 to 1985 he was network officer for the Presiding Bishop’s Fund for World Relief (now known as Episcopal Relief & Development).

He was rector of St. James’ Church, Los Angeles from 1963 to 1979; among his parishioners there were singer Nat King Cole and his family. During his tenure he founded St. James’ School, which still thrives today, and which he served as chaplain until 1982.

Prior to his time at St. James, D’Amico was rector of Holy Faith Church, Inglewood (1953 – 1963) and executive director of religious education for the Diocese of Los Angeles (1953 – 1958); and rector of the congregation at St. Paul’s Cathedral from 1947 to 1953.

Before moving to Southern California, D’Amico was canon of the Cathedral of St. John in Providence, Rhode Island, and director of religious education for the Diocese of Rhode Island. He had previously served as a school chaplain in Massachusetts.

Sam D’Amico was born in Wakefield, Massachusetts, on March 12, 1918 to Anthony and Annie D’Amico, Italian immigrants who arrived in the United States in their teens. He attended Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts, and earned a bachelor’s degree cum laude from Harvard University in 1939. He received a bachelor of divinity degree cum laude at the Episcopal Theological School, Cambridge, Mass., in 1943, and also did graduate work at the Harvard School of Education in 1944. He earned a doctorate from the Graduate Theological Union in 1972.

He was ordained a deacon on Sept. 15, 1943 and a priest on May 31, 1944 by Bishop Suffragan Raymond A. Heron of the Diocese of Massachusetts. He married Alice Virginia Shepard on July 20, 1946.

“My father would see as his greatest achievement the school at St. James,” said Tony D’Amico. “He had a vision of school open to everybody in the community. He was proud of the racial and ethnic mix there and made sure scholarships were available. It was amazing at that time. It was a beautiful thing to see.”