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Bigfooter Sam Sherry Dies

Posted by: Loren Coleman on February 23rd, 2008

Sam Sherry PA Bigfoot Hunter

Sam Sherry of Wilpen, Pennsylvania, holds plaster casts of Bigfoot tracks that he found in his area.

Correspondents Eric Altman and Paul Johnson have sent along word today that Pennsylvania Bigfoot researcher Sam Sherry, 86, has passed away. Sherry died at the Veteran’s Hospital in Pittsburgh, yesterday, February 22, 2008, at 1 p.m.

The viewing and funeral will be at Snyder’s funeral home in Ligonier, Pennsylvania.

Altman writes: “For those who knew Sam or had the pleasure of meeting Sam, he was one of a kind and a real character….Even into his 80’s, without sight or hearing, Sam still travelled up to the Chestnut Ridge to hunt for Bigfoot. I spent most of my early days researching with Sam. Unfortunately I had not seen him in the past few years. He will be sadly missed.”

The following article covered Sam Sherry’s recent Bigfoot involvements.

May 25, 2007.

Man gained fame tracking Bigfoot

By Joe Gordon
The Tribune-Democrat

Ligonier — Except for a chance encounter one night with a tall, dark stranger, 85-year-old Sam Sherry’s name might not now appear on the Internet, in yellowed magazine and newspaper clippings – and in a smattering of books about strange phenomenon.

There was little remarkable about Sherry before that night.

He grew up in the small Ligonier Valley town of Wilpen and became a steelworker. He was drafted, fought the Japanese from island to island during World War II, then spent more than two years in hospitals from war wounds.

He returned home and married a local girl, the former Naomi Swank. The couple eventually moved into the same house where Sam had been born. They raised two children – a son who is a Chicago-area priest and a daughter who lives in Blairsville.

But almost exactly 20 years ago – on May 17, 1987 – Sam met Bigfoot.

And everything changed.

Prior to that, the biggest thing that had happened to him was being wounded during the war.

His wife said he came home from the South Pacific just days before Christmas 1944.

“His mother got a telegram – ‘If you want to see your son alive, hurry to Valley Forge Army Hospital,’ ” Naomi said.

“When they came to see him, his body was like stone. He had lost the use of his arms and legs, and he couldn’t talk. He had to learn everything over again, like a baby.”

After about two years, he was discharged from the hospital – but he left the service permanently disabled.

“He wasn’t able to go out and work, but he did like to go fishing and hunting,” Naomi said. “That’s what he really lived for.”

Sam earned his reputation as a tough bird. He still carries shrapnel in his body and a steel plate in his skull from the war.

In 1967, he was diagnosed with colon cancer and had much of his large intestine removed. Fifteen years later, a doctor expressed amazement that Sam was still alive.

“June 7 will be 40 years,” Naomi said.

On the night he met Bigfoot, Sam had gone to fish at nearby Loyalhanna Creek, but soon returned.

“He wouldn’t say anything,” Naomi said. “For about two days, he kept it to himself. But, he never went down there to do nighttime fishing again.”

Sam later visited Ligonier’s weekly newspaper office to ask if anyone else had reported a similar encounter, and his story was passed along to Stan Gordon of Greensburg. Gordon had a reputation for investigating strange occurrences throughout western Pennsylvania.

Gordon passed the word in Bigfoot circles; Sam became a celebrity.

He began to look specifically for Bigfoot and to file regular reports about his findings, such as seven sightings in nine years of the same Bigfoot couple – including a white female he named “Snowflake.”

His account of finding a baby track sent out a ripple of excitement. Soon, some of the top names in Bigfoot research began to make cross-country pilgrimages to the Sherrys’ tiny three-room bungalow.

“We had what we called the Chestnut Ridge Bigfoot Center,” Naomi said.

“At times, he had as many as 25 guys here on a Saturday or Sunday. I used to cook them dinners and everything so they could have a meal. Men have to eat.”

Meanwhile, Sam had become obsessed with Bigfoot, and spent nearly all of his free time exploring Chestnut Ridge and hauling food up the mountain to supply bait stations. He made dozens of plaster casts of footprints he found and mailed them out worldwide in response to requests.

Continued reports on his findings and theories brought more attention – and visitors.

“There was a guy who came here from Japan,” Sam said.

“And, a guy called from Hungary and wanted me to go to the Himalayas with him to hunt the yeti.”

A Texas man custom-made an oversized snare that Sam used to try to catch a specimen.

He invested 17 years and a lot of money in the pursuit.

“Not yet, no,” Sam said when asked if he had ever made a profit off Bigfoot. “I have to catch him first.”

That seems unlikely now.

Sam is all but deaf and has been legally blind for nearly 10 years. He has neither the agility nor stamina to hike the mountains.

His fame has faded in Bigfoot circles, too. Many of his contemporaries have died, and most of today’s researchers have moved on to new pursuits.

But Sam still carries food to the top of Chestnut Ridge whenever an old friend such as Duquesne chemistry professor Paul Johnson or Joe Nemanich of Johnstown’s West End pays a visit and gives him a ride.

“He’s a woodsman,” Nemanich said. “He’s a living legend. He eats, sleeps and breathes Bigfoot.”

Clearly, time is not on Sam’s side. He expresses no regrets.

“I had one hell of a life,” he said. “If I had it to do over again, I’d do it.”

The International Cryptozoology Museum has an original cast made by Sam Sherry from Chestnut Ridge, Pennsylvania, in 1979, which looks very similar to the essence of the cast (without surrounding material) seen in the photograph at top (on the left).

About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013.


10 Responses to “Bigfooter Sam Sherry Dies”

  1. hudgeliberal responds:

    RIP Sam. Krantz, Dahinden, Sherry, Patterson etc. have all passed. Shame that we are losing so much history, stories and knowledge about the elusive creature that has become obsession for many of us. The “legends” of sasquatchery as they have been called, are dwindling. People around my age group, 41, grew up watching many of these men on the famous documentaries of the late 60’s and early to mid 70’s. Their interviews and dedication made a believer out of me as a young child and the wonder and fascination with Bigfoot has never faded one bit. Those were the good ole days. Now, we have loudmouthed attention whores charging money to take 30-40 people clanging around a campsite and call it an expedition, shame really. Krantz, Byrne, Dahinden, Green, Patterson, Sherry etc. are the men that we could all learn a few things from and should continue with the same type of dedication and desire to find this creature before it is too late. RIP SAM!

  2. hudgeliberal responds:

    Before anyone posts,I want to say that in the last sentence I included John Green and Yes,to my knowledge he is still alive and well. I was just listing some of the legends. Of course,Loren is among that elite group as well. Take care all.

  3. bill green responds:

    hey loren & everyone im very deeply sadden of the passing of a friend researcher sam sherry . ive talked to him on the phone a few times about his sasquatch sightings & evidence etc. he even sent me a few articles about the pa sasquatch which now i will always keep. sam was a wonderful researcher he always kept me up to date on his sasquatch research in pa mountians. well to my friend sam sherry your in heavin now amen. sidenote hey loren wonderful memorable article about sam sherry. thanks bill green :(

  4. Loren Coleman responds:

    Yes, John Green, Peter Byrne, and that old guy Loren Coleman are all still very much alive.

  5. MountDesertIslander responds:

    I grew up in Ligonier Valley and went to high school with Sam’s son also named Sam. The summer of 1972 began a period of about 3 years of heavy bigfoot activity in that corner of western Pennsylvania. There were a few of us who actively searched for answers, but our numbers eventually dwindled away. Even though his experiences came years later, Sam boldly asserted his belief in this creature. As the years moved along he became one of the few remaining active voices for bigfoot research in our hometown area. He was fearless in the face of local criticism and ridicule from the local sceptics. His story never wavered even though he made some fantastic claims as to his interaction with bigfoot. Sam became a legend in the bigfoot community, but, as it is with most things, it’s most difficult to become accepted in your own hometown. I personally appreciated Sam’s passion for this subject and am grateful for the efforts he made. My condolences to his family and friends. Raise a toast from me for Sam at the Russian Club tonight.

  6. Loren Coleman responds:

    I added a brief note to the end of the blog about the original cast from Sam Sherry that is at the ICM.

  7. squatchwatcher responds:

    Anybody who served in WWII is remarkable in my book, bigfoot witness or not. RIP.

  8. cryptidsrus responds:

    RIP, Sir.

    Condolences to the family.

  9. bigfootboy_2000 responds:

    Sam was a character as I said. I spent many hours in the woods with him. A funny story I’ll share with you all. One time in 2003, a group of us went up to see Sam. He took us up to this Honey tree where he had been baiting in hopes to attract a Bigfoot. While on our way down the mountain I caught a very strong over powering smell that entered Sam’s truck I was driving. It was very, very bad. Smelled like rotting meat. Thinking that perhaps there was a dead animal or something in the area, I stopped and went back to the other vehicles to find out if they too had smelled the same thing. They did not. I walked around the truck for several minutes trying to determine where the smell was coming from. Here it was a plastic shopping bag Sam had filled with rotten food Sam had put out at the bait station. Just so Loren knows. The cast that Sam sent too the museum was discovered and cast by Pennsylvania Bigfoot researcher Bob France near the small community of Hillside in Derry twp at the foot of the Chestnut Ridge in Pennsylvania back in 1995. I have a copy of the cast as well.

    Here is Sam’s Obituary:
    Samuel J. Sherry
    Wilpen

    Samuel J. Sherry, 86, of Wilpen, Ligonier Township, died Friday, Feb. 22, 2008, in Pittsburgh. He was born Sept. 28, 1921, in Wilpen to the late Stephen and Helen Sharkody Sherry. Sam was a member of St. John the Baptist Orthodox Church, Wilpen, and enjoyed hunting and fishing. He also was preceded in death by brothers John and Stephen Sherry. Sam is survived by his wife, Naomi Swank Sherry; daughter, Betty Joan Leary, of Blairsville; son, the Rev. Samuel J. Sherry and wife Bonnie, of Niles, Ill.; grandchildren, John, Jason and Josh Leary and Hannah and Sarah Anne Sherry; great-grandchildren, Carlee and Jacob, and sisters, Martha Kurela, of New Mexico, and Helen Mollick, of Ligonier. The family will receive friends from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Monday at the SNYDER FUNERAL HOME INC & CREMATORY, Bell and East Church streets, Ligonier, where a Parastas service will be at 7. An additional Parastas service will be at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday in the funeral home, followed by Divine Liturgy to be celebrated at 10 in St. John Orthodox Church with the Rev. Tony Joseph as celebrant. Interment will be in St. John Cemetery. Elizabeth Snyder Bloom, Funeral Director.

  10. red_pill_junkie responds:

    Rest in Peace.



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