05/10/2009 11:00PM

Samuel, longtime Calif. official, dies at 75

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Dave Samuel, a steward and racing official in California for more than 35 years, died Friday after a lengthy illness, according to his friends and family.

Samuel was living in Placentia, Calif., at the time of his death. He was 75, and was suffering from familial amyloid neuropathy, a degenerative disease that affects the nervous system.

A minor league ballplayer in his youth, Samuel worked in several capacities in racing, including as a steward and placing judge. He retired at the end of 2003 after serving as a steward at tracks such as Del Mar, the Los Angeles County Fair at Fairplex Park, and Santa Anita.

In recent years, he spent most of his time at home because of his illness.

Samuel was born in Pennsylvania, and the family moved to Southern California during his childhood. During his college years, he played baseball at Long Beach City College.

Prior to his involvement in racing, Samuel managed a drugstore in the 1960s, according to his son Mike. When the drugstore burned, Samuel decided it was time to switch careers. "They told him to go to the store and see what happened," Mike Samuel recalled over the weekend. "He said, 'I know what happened. It burned. I'm moving on.' "

It was then that Samuel got a job in racing.

A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. on May 18 at Memory Gardens Memorial Park, 455 W. Central Ave. in Brea. In lieu of flowers the family suggests a donation to the Don MacBeth Memorial Jockey Fund (www.macbethfund.org.