The proprietor of a popular Tennessee farm, Sam Beall, is dead at age 39 after a skiing accident, his family announced.
“The Beall family and the Blackberry Farm team are understandably shocked by this heartbreaking news about the man they loved dearly as a son, brother, father, friend and host,” said the press release.
“They welcome the thoughts and prayers of all those whose lives were touched by Sam’s hospitable nature, visionary leadership and adventurous spirit. They also request privacy for the Beall family during this difficult time.”
Beall was born at the farm and spent some of his early years there. He later moved to Alabama, where he spent the next 14 years, according to the farm website.
He attended The University of Tennessee and The California Culinary Academy, and later did a series of jobs where he “fell in love with heirloom ingredients, artisanal food products, wine and a way of life not previously seen to his years growing up,” it said.
Beall eventually became the proprietor of the farm, and was behind the creation of two new restaurants there, among other accomplishments.
Beall is survived by his wife Mary Celeste and five children.
Tributes poured in from those who knew and worked with Beall.
“When Sam walked into a room he brought a brightness and buoyancy to the room and it was infectious,” John Edge, director of the Southern Foodways Alliance, told the Knoxville News Sentinel.
“He made good on the promise of the table and the promise of hospitality, and he reconnected the bond between the farm and the dinner plate. He set standards that was not national but international and did it with a generosity of spirit that was beautiful to behold.”
“Sam was one of the most forward-thinking and generous stewards of the sustainability movement, whose spirit embodied genuine hospitality,” wrote Michel Nischan on Facebook.
“A true Southern gentleman, Sam generously shared his time, talent, property and resources in an authentic effort to make the world a better place through food. Sam will be sorely missed.”
“He was by far the kindest and most caring person. He showed his passion for food and wine through Blackberry Farm,” added former farm worker Michelle Miller.
“Some of my best years in life were spent at Blackberry meeting celeb chefs and just all around great people who shared a love for fine wines and exquisite foods. I will never forget… RIP.”