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A Native Son

Mack Samples was born and raised at Corton, West Virginia, a rural community located near the Kanawha-Clay county lines. He attended Corton School for the first six years, then graduated from Clendenin High School.

After a four-year stint in the United States Navy, he entered Glenville State College and graduated in 1965. He taught for three years in West Virginia public schools, then got a Master’s degree from Ohio University. Mack worked for the University of South Carolina for five years as a professor and administrator. He returned to Glenville in 1973 where he remained for 21 years as Registrar and Director of Admissions. The final five years of his working career were spent as a West Virginia University Extension Agent in Clay, WV.

Since his retirement in 1999, Mack has enjoyed some success as a writer and currently has eight books on the market. All of his books have been good sellers. His latest, a novel entitled The Dark Hollows of West Virginia, tells the story of a shocking double homicide in fictitious "Transparent County," West Virginia. Sheriff Caleb McKee leads the investigation of those murders, exposing a group of the community's most prominent men. While Samples' story, locale and characters are fictitious, we could find their real-life counterparts in the headlines of any state and local paper.

Mack has also always been active in traditional music and continues a busy schedule with the Samples Brothers Band. The band has three CDs on the market and tour the festival circuit during the summer months. Their CDs have sold well into the thousands.

Mack and his wife, Thelma, have always been enthusiastic square dancers and Mack is widely known as a square dance caller. Mack and Thelma are also active ballroom dancers and are members of the River Cities Ballroom Dance Club in Marietta, Ohio. They live on a 55 acre farm in Duck, WV.

During the 2003 Vandalia Festival in Charleston, West Virginia, Mack was presented with the Vandalia Award, the state’s highest award for the preservation of traditional life in West Virginia. He was the featured cover story in the Spring, 2004 edition of Goldenseal Magazine. During the 2006 Vandalia Festival, Mack placed first in the old time banjo contest and fifth in the fiddle contest.

Mack and Thelma are the parents of two children, Tracy and Grayson, and have two grandchildren by the names of Emma Grace Samples and Amelia Julianne.