Samantha “Sam” Hankins 50, of Paramus, NJ passed away on Thursday, March 2, 2017 after an 8-year battle with breast cancer. Sam attended Kent Place School in Summit, NJ for primary and secondary school where she played Varsity basketball. After Dartmouth, she received a law degree from Boston College in 1993. At her core, Sam believed in justice. She began her legal career as an Assistant District Attorney for New York County in the Trial Division and Special Prosecutions Bureau, leaving in 2000. She said some of her proudest moments were standing up in court saying “Samantha Hankins for the people.” She later worked as a lawyer at the NY Stock Exchange, J.P. Morgan Chase, Citibank and Deutsche Bank.
When Sam was an ADA, she met the love of her life, William “Billy” Burke, who was a police officer on one of her cases. They had two beloved sons, Wilson and Jackson; Sam was deeply devoted to all three of them.
Sam was a cherished friend. At her funeral, so many people gathered from across the country that the receiving line was three hours long! Sam was never the one found dancing on the table (she left that to her more audacious Theta sisters!) but her quiet strength profoundly touched people, and her friendships endured over decades and distance.
Tim remembers: “For those who had the privilege of knowing Sam and were granted the gift of her friendship, there was a rare quality of that closeness that made you feel tremendously valued and loved. She was a very private person – driven, smart, courageous, strong, warm, tender, tough, kind and beautiful through and through. We laughed when we were together. A lot. I can hear her laughing – throwing her head back and filling the space with her joy and humor. Once, when discussing optimism, I mused: ‘You plan for the best….’ and Sam jumped in, saying ‘and deal with the rest!’ Plan for the best and deal with the rest. Perfect. That is a life motto we shared, and she exemplified.”
Sam’s death brought an outpouring of love: close friends reached out from around the world to connect and be bolstered in our grief through the painful solidarity of this poignant and heartbreaking moment. Life is richer for having known and loved Sam. Her love lives on in all of us eternally.
Paula Zagrecki ’88 and Tim Ambrose ’88