SAMMY KLINE knew supermarkets. He could tell you what market had the lowest price on any item and where you could find it in the store.
Sammy worked in the supermarket industry in Philadelphia most of his life, advancing from grocery clerk to manager and district supervisor for Thriftway.
His encyclopedic knowledge of products and their location was a boon to anyone who had a grocery order to fill.
Samuel W. Kline Jr., a Navy veteran of World War II, who was dedicated to helping fellow veterans and who wanted to make sure they had a great Christmas every year, died early Monday of a heart attack.
He had attended the holiday dinner he organized every year at the Delaware Valley Veterans Home on Southampton Road and had just arrived at the home of his son, Joseph, in Bensalem.
He was taking some leftover snacks to his son and died in his car. He was found by a police officer. He was 81 and lived in the Northeast.
"He had stents put in some years ago," said his sister City Councilwoman Joan L. Krajew-ski, "but he had been feeling fine."
Sammy was born to Sam and Anna Kline and raised in Port Richmond with seven brothers and sisters, all of whom attended Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parochial School.
He attended Northeast Catholic High School for Boys and entered the Navy at age 17. He served in the Pacific Theater on PT Boat 175.
As a boy, he couldn't have helped being steered toward the grocery business since his mother ran Anna's Apron, a popular corner grocery and candy store at Weikel and Ann streets in Port Richmond. It catered to the Irish and Polish, blue-collar and middle-class rowhouse residents of the river wards.
He married the former Concetta Cistone in 1949.
After the Navy, Sammy went to work for the Baltimore Meat Market on Kensington Avenue. He later worked for Food Fair, Best Markets, Pantry Pride and Thriftway.
His holiday dinners at the veterans home included food, music and entertainment. He made sure every veteran at the home had a gift to open.
He sought donations for the vets of bathrobes, slippers, socks, books, magazines, reading glasses and radios.
In the summer, Sammy and his fellow members of American Legion Post 810 in Andalusia threw a big outdoor BBQ at the home, complete with string bands, water ice and pretzels, grilled chicken, burgers and salads.
"He was the best brother in the world," Krajewski said. "He kept the family together."
He would go to the cemetery and put wreaths on every grave of his deceased family members, including his parents and four brothers.
Sammy also was active in the Ancient Order of Hibernians and the Knights of Columbus.
His wife died a few years ago. Besides his sister, he is survived by three sons, Samuel III, Joseph and Michael; two other sisters, Sister Helen Kline S.S.J. and Regina Karbelk; eight grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by his brothers, Edward, Tommy, Franny and John.
Services: Funeral Mass 10 a.m. Saturday at Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church, 9222 Old Bustleton Ave. Friends may call at 7 p.m. Friday at the Galzerano Funeral Home, 9304 Old Bustleton Ave., and at 9 a.m. Saturday.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Delaware Valley Veterans Home, 2701 Southampton Road, Philadelphia, Pa. 19154. *