Samuel S. Janoplis, a lifelong Provincetown resident, died on Sept. 22, 2023 at Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis. No cause of death was given. He was 86.
Known as Sam, Sammy, or Big Sam, he enjoyed life’s simple pleasures. Living and working in the small, tight-knit Provincetown community brought him tremendous joy and comfort.
Sam was born to Michael and Annie Janoplis on June 26, 1937. Growing up, he preferred hands-on learning to books and the constraints of classrooms. The opportunities afforded by living at the tip of Cape Cod — particularly boating and the restaurant world — were a perfect fit for him.
While working at Flyer’s Boat Yard as a teenager, Sammy explored his love of the sea, which grew to include an interest in lighthouses, and he visited them throughout New England. Later in life, Sam celebrated those visits by wearing his favorite lighthouse sweatshirt.
When he was young, Sam started working at his family’s business, the Mayflower Cafe, alongside his father, Mike Janoplis Sr., and brother, Mike Janoplis Jr. He loved that work, and from the Mayflower he went on to own the Family Table. He worked at John’s Footlong, which he called “The Stand,” well into retirement.
Sam thrived in the restaurant world because he made it his own; no matter where he worked, he had at least one member of his family working there beside him. Big Sam was also a social butterfly; working in restaurants allowed him to flex his social muscles daily.
After work, Sam could often be seen cruising down Commercial Street on a nightly ride in his truck or convertible, saying hello to friends, family, and vacationers. He said hello to anyone and everyone, which, over time, made him a Provincetown icon.
Sammy was a skilled builder. He began by working with local electrician Herman “Tiny” Rivard and honed his skills alongside friend and fellow carpenter Robert “Dousha” Silva. Eventually, Sam expanded into interior trim work, which he did for Thadd Papetsas. He enjoyed carpentry partly because it meant working alongside one of his lifelong best friends, Ernest Carreiro.
Eventually, Sam applied his carpentry skills to the project of building his own home in Provincetown, where he enjoyed many years with his former partner, Luitgard “Lu” Hetlyn.
Sammy was a member of both the Lions Club and the Knights of Columbus. In both organizations, he made lifelong friendships that felt like family, as well as a fair number of delicious meals he would reminisce about until the next meeting.
Big Sam was special to many people. He lives on among family and friends in their loving memories, endearing impressions, hilarious anecdotes, and glimpses of his famous bobblehead.
Samuel is survived by his four children, Michael Janoplis of Truro, with whom he shared a passion for cooking; Michelle Janoplis of Weymouth, with whom he shared the ability to socialize with anyone; Mark Janoplis of Truro and South Portland, Maine, with whom he shared the idiosyncrasies of everyday life; and Mylan Janoplis of Provincetown, with whom he shared a dedication to hard work and perseverance. He was the proud grandfather of Danielle Lisbon of Quincy and Mia Janoplis of South Portland, Maine.
He is also survived by niece Suzanne Carter of East Dennis, who took care of him for many years, as well as many other nieces and nephews.
Samuel was predeceased by his father, Michael Janoplis Sr.; his mother, Annie Janoplis; his brother, Michael Janoplis Jr.; and his sisters, Louine Daugherty and Helen Carter. He was also predeceased by his former wife and the mother of his children, Maria Brito Janoplis.
Services will be private. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Provincetown Rescue Squad.
A celebration of Samuel’s life will be held at noon on Saturday, Nov. 4 at the Surf Club in Provincetown.