Sam Harrell

Samuel Terrence Harrell was born in New Orleans on Christmas Day, 1934. He was adopted shortly after by Anna Marie and Samuel Nolan Harrell. He died at the age of 85 on July 31, 2019 in El Campo at Garden Villa Health Care Center.

Sam grew up in the Houston Heights as an only child. He had a happy boyhood and always looked forward to visiting his many aunts, uncles and cousins in Morgan City, La. It was during his time as a young boy that he accepted Jesus Christ as his savior. He graduated from John H. Reagan High School (Houston) in 1954. Sam always enjoyed the time he spent participating in local rodeos, especially bull riding. When he was stationed in Fairbanks, Alaska with the U.S. Army in the mid 1950s, he learned that his father had passed away suddenly. He quickly returned to Houston to be with his mother. He graduated from the University of Houston (U of H) in 1960 with a bachelor’s degree in business. While attending U of H, he went on a blind date and met the love of his life: Mignon. They married on June 9, 1961 and moved to their first apartment in the River Oaks area of Houston. Sam was in sales management and financial planning with both the Travelers and the Kemper insurance companies.

Next, they moved to the Spring Branch subdivision of Houston where they began their family. Sam and Mignon were active members of the First Baptist Church of Spring Branch where Sam served as a deacon. He was also involved in several civic, professional and service organizations. It was at this time that Sam began his career in commercial real estate with the Anderson Fitzgerald Giammalva real estate company in Houston where he was selected the Outstanding Associate of the Year in 1974. In 1975, his friend Dee McElroy of Wharton, called him to ask if he knew anyone who could come to Wharton and join him in his real estate business. Sam’s reply was, “Yeah, me.” A few months later, he moved his family to Wharton. The business later became Harrell/McElroy Company and was in operation for more than 30 years. One of the things that made Sam happiest was helping people become land and home owners.

While raising their family in Wharton, Sam and Mignon quickly became involved in the community and began building long-lasting friendships. They joined the First Baptist Church where Sam served on many committees and as a deacon for almost 45 years. 

His sense of humor will be greatly missed. He loved hunting on his deer lease with friends, helping his son Todd with 4-H projects, raising cattle, getting together with the couples dinner club and his local coffee group. He was an active member in the Wharton Rotary Club for more than 40 years, where he served as president and received the Paul Harris Fellow Award. He was also a regular blood donor for more than 50 years, giving more than 100 pints throughout his lifetime.

Sam was blessed with four grandsons whom he loved dearly. Family was important to him and he is remembered best as an example of a strong Christian husband, father, Papa and friend. He instilled a sense of integrity in his children and grandchildren who will live on.

Sam is survived by a family who will miss him deeply: his wife of 58 years, Mignon (Wharton); daughter Renee and husband Eric Goelzer (New Braunfels); son Todd Harrell and wife Tami (Burr); grandsons Ty Harrell, Trey Harrell, Riley Goelzer and Brett Goelzer; sister-in-law Charlotte Martin; niece Marcie Martin; nephew Keith Martin; and many beloved cousins in and around Morgan City, La. The family would like to express their deep appreciation to the special caregivers at Garden Villa Health Care Center for the loving care Sam received. 

Visitation will be held on Saturday, Aug. 17 at  9:30 a.m. at the First Baptist Church of Wharton. A celebration of life will follow at 10:30 a.m. with a time of remembrances and fellowship afterwards in the Fellowship Hall. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the First Baptist Church of Wharton. 

Funeral services under the direction of Wharton Funeral Home. Condolences may be left at