(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Patty Murray today honored the life of Sam Volpentest with a statement on the floor of the U.S. Senate. Senator Murray’s statement on Sam follows:

“M. President, I rise today to share the sad news that Sam Volpentest – a name many of us here in Congress know well – passed away last night at the age of 101.

Here in our nation’s capital, Sam was a near constant fixture – always searching for new ways to help his beloved community of the Tri-Cities to move forward.

M. President, to fully appreciate Sam’s contributions, you have to understand something about the geography and history of my state.

The Tri-Cities – Richland, Pasco and Kennewick – are located on the Columbia River in the southeastern region of Washington.

From the Hanford nuclear facility, to the pristine beauty of the last free-flowing stretch of the Columbia River, to the many varied agriculture and business challenges, the Tri-Cities are diverse and unique.

But located across the Cascade Mountains from Seattle and other population centers, it could be easy for three communities like these to have their needs overlooked.

Sam made sure that never happened.

Whenever something important was happening in the Tri-Cities, I could always count on Sam to show up in my Senate office to share it with me – even if I didn’t know he was coming.

I vividly remember many years ago, when the Chair of the Energy Committee cut funding for the construction of HAMMER – a world-class training facility located in Richland.

Well, I like to think that I am always on top of issues affecting my home state – but Sam kept me on my toes.

I showed up at my office one morning at about 7:30 am. And guess who was already there, standing outside waiting for me? Sam Volpentest.

And although Sam may have only had about an inch-or-so on me, that man’s passion could move mountains. And on that day his passion was for building HAMMER.

Well, I didn’t want to mess with Sam – so I marched right into that Energy Committee Chairman’s office and fought side-by-side with Sam to restore those cuts. And we won!

I was proud to stand with Sam at the HAMMER groundbreaking ceremony in July of 1995.

He was 91 years young at the time.

And I’ve still got my shovel on display in my office as a reminder of what we all can do if we have passion and heart and work together.

And just look at HAMMER today- it is a first-rate facility that keeps Hanford workers safe.

HAMMER has created good jobs and economic development, and now has the potential to be a homeland security training center for first responders across America.

Our entire country owes Sam a debt of gratitude for all he has done for so many.

During my years in the Senate, I’ve worked with a lot of people. But no one – no one – has even come close to matching Sam’s energy, his commitment and his success.

Sam has been a role model to me and to all of us who want to spend our lives giving something back to the communities we care about most. And I want to thank him for helping me be a better representative for all the people in our state.

Sam was a one-person Chamber of Commerce, a visitor’s center and a cheerleading squad all wrapped into one.

Sam Volpentest was the heart and soul of the Tri-Cities. He was one of a kind. Sam will be dearly missed, but never forgotten.