Don Sams

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Penny Samaniego

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My life’s’ journey began on August 6th, 1953 at Southeast Missouri Hospital in Cape Girardeau, MO.

Growing up in the Midwest specifically in Iowa and Illinois was pretty simple but instilled some solid values and the pride that came with doing a job and doing it well.

Picking up a job as a laborer on farms, delivering newspapers (I was newspaper boy of the year), and finally my first big job working at Saunders Standard Super Service Center. A full service gas station and repair facility.

My life was heavily influenced by two GREAT women. My mother, Katy, and my grandmother, Mary Maude. They were instrumental in making me the man I am today and teaching me life’s lessons that govern my life today.

After graduating from EIU, I took my first job in insurance claims in Chicago, Illinois. After a couple of years I met some folks who were willing to move me to California. After the worst winter in the history of Chicago I took it, never having been to California.

After several years working for Brown Brothers Adjusters I started Sams & Associates on January 1st, 1990 in Emeryville, CA. Over the next several years we were very blessed with the support and assistance of many people. We have grown our company to cover all of the Western United States.

In July of 1993 I was blessed with the most beautiful , wonderful and loving daughter, Katy. Katy brought a joy to my life I had never known. She is completing her senior year at Southeast Missouri State and recently we celebrated her 21st birthday in New Orleans with our new family.

In March of 2009 I met Penelope Samaniego at a charity event we were hosting. Penelope was brought to the event by a special friend, Noki, who never told telling either of us we were being “set-up”.

I was not looking for any one at that time because Katy was my only focus but God has a way of working in our lives. He brought me Penny and showed me what and who I really needed and was meant to be with.

I knew immediately and instantly I had met a very special lady. As I came to know Penelope I knew she was all that and more. Both Katy and I were instantly smitten with the beautiful, kind, caring and grounded person we now had the privilege of being in our lives.

Penelope has two great kids, Joe and Olivia. Over the past six years we have truly come together as a family. Joe finished his undergrad work at UCSB and Olivia, also recently graduated, from UCSB. They are both very bright and loving children. I have come to love and respect them as my own. We have truly been blessed to have developed a close knit fiercely loyal family unit.

I have always been a dreamer and even at this point in my life my dreams just get bigger.

Joe and I are beginning work on a film project together and I have considered setting up Olivia and Katy in their occupational businesses. I stress to our kids to just “follow your dreams.” We will do all we can to help you along the way.

God has so blessed me and my family and we look forward to sharing this special time with our friends and family.

Life is good and getting better. As many of you know, I am a big believer in you reap what you sow. I must have sown something good because the Good Lord has blessed me so richly and I count each of you in that blessing.


Growing up in Pacific Grove, California, with a beach within walking distance, life was never dull. I was always surrounded by lots of family and we were never short on characters. My sisters, Susan and Kate, and I were always up for an adventure; from building our own secret clubhouse in the woods to digging a colossal hole in our grandparents’ backyard with our cousins. We had hoped my grandpa would complete the job by somehow turning it into our own private swimming pool, however, that didn’t happen. We filled it with water and it was one muddy summer.

High school for me in the 80’s was a great time. I was very involved and participated in cheerleading and softball. It was through this that I met my best friend Vicki. She is one of my best friends still today and will be a bridesmaid. I’m sure she will be more than happy to elaborate on the adventures of our youth during her toast. While still in high school, I attended the Monterey Academy of Hair Design, graduating from both within weeks of each other. After receiving my cosmetology license, my first job doing hair was in a little salon on Cannery Row.

You never know where life’s roads will take you and in 1989 mine took me to Bakersfield, CA. As the youngest volunteer in my church’s nursery, I knew early in life I had a special place in my heart for children. On March 23, 1991, I was blessed with a son, Joseph Anthony, and my heart was overjoyed. On that day I knew one of my purposes in life was to be a mom. Exactly one year later, on March 23, 1992, my daughter Olivia Marie was born. Both of my children are, and have always been, my treasures in life. I count them most among my many blessings and consider them to be my greatest achievement in life. Joe and Olivia were instantly bonded and continue to be the best of friends.

In April of 1998, Joe, Olivia and I moved into a small farmhouse in Loomis. It was a transitional time for us and we spent the next four months there with my sister Kate, chasing sheep, riding tractors and hitting golf balls into nowhere. It was at this point that I redirected my life and more fully realized the goals that I had for myself and for my children. Much of my family had relocated during this time and I was once again fortunate enough to be surrounded by their continuous love and support.

I began working at the Atrium Spa & Salon in 1998. I still enjoy working at the Atrium to this day and have met so many of my wonderful friends there. That fall, we moved to Rocklin where my kids attended school and became very involved with many different activities, some lasting longer than others. One thing that has truly lasted is the friendships that they have made. My open heart for children became our open home for many of their friends. You can only imagine the fun, the laughter, and the food that went through that house. It was there that I acquired the name “Mama Pen”. Many of these unofficial family members will be there on the special day to help us celebrate.

The date was March 14, 2009 and my close friend and coworker, Noki, asked if I could join her at an Acres of Hope Fundraiser in support of the salon we both worked at. Noki had put together a beauty basket for the fundraiser and was already friends with Don. He had two extra tickets and had offered them to her and a guest.

At the time I was a full time hair dresser and single mother of two, and was not interested in dating. I was focused solely on my two beautiful children and my career. My friends would try to set me up but I would always decline.

At first I was apprehensive to attend; however, soon Noki won me over pushing the fact that the owner of the salon could not go and that she really needed me there well aware that Don & I would be the perfect match. Noki knew that if she told me it was a partial set up that I would never go.

We arrived and found Don at the wine bar where Don & I met for the first time. I can still recall how quickly his bright blue eyes took me off guard. We said our introductions and went on to get settled at the table. Don had quickly moved his items asking if it was ok for him to sit next to me. I agreed not sure what to make of everything. As the evening went on I felt Hershey Kisses drop over my shoulder. Finally, near the end of the night he asked me if I had noticed that he was sending me kisses. I looked down at my lap full of kisses and said, “why yes I did notice that.” I was definitely intrigued and taken back by him.

That night, when I got home my daughter, Olivia, instantly knew that I had met someone although I had not dated in seven years. Olivia immediately demanded his name so she could cyber stalk him to make sure he was okay for me. I couldn’t believe my daughter could read the excitement in my face the very first night.

Don & Penny:

“Thinking back to the beginning and how it all started, it’s crazy to think that we are now planning the biggest day of our lives and preparing to share it with everyone we love.
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for joining us on our special weekend.”