We mournfully announce the passing of Samuel Winston Pruett, 55, of Springdale, Arkansas who left this life on March 6, 2021 to live with his Heavenly Father. Survivors include his mother, Joyce Warren (Pruett) Roberts and Carl Roberts, brother Arthur Warren Pruett and his wife Natalie Pruett, niece Sophia Pruett, nephew Sam Pruett, stepsister Carrie Roberts, stepbrother David Roberts, aunts, and many cousins and friends.
Sam attended Springdale Public Schools and graduated from Springdale High School in 1983, serving as student body president during his senior year. He attended the University of Arkansas and was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. He graduated with a BA degree in Communications in 1988. During that time, he volunteered as a Youth Director at Central United Methodist Church and held internship positions with the Springdale Chamber of Commerce and Northwest Regional Hospital. After graduating, he attended the University of Oxford as a visiting scholar.
Upon graduating from college, he went to work for the Genesis Technology Incubator at the University of Arkansas, where he was quickly promoted to the position of Executive Director at the age of 27. While serving in this role, he was elected and served as the Chairman of the National Business Incubation Association and accepted the industry’s highest honor as the 1993 National Incubator of the Year Award. He also received numerous honors and awards including the “40 Under 40” list awarded by the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal, Outstanding Young Alumni by the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville’s Young Top Five from the city of Fayetteville, Outstanding Young Arkansas Award from the Arkansas Jaycees, Person of the Year Award from the Fayetteville Downtown Rotary, Person of the Week from KHBS-TV and the National Small Business Advocate of the Year award from the Small Business Administration. He also served on numerous boards and memberships.
While at Genesis, he held the position of Economic Development Officer for the College of Engineering at the University of Arkansas, where he secured a $1.7M grant from the Economic Development of Arkansas Fund Commission for improvements to the Engineering Research Center. He also raised $512,000 for the Engineering Intern Program for technology-based companies in Arkansas.
Sam left Genesis to become the President/CEO of the Memphis Incubator Systems, where he oversaw the development of the first technology incubator, Emerge Memphis, and recruited 17 firms into the program.
Three years later, Sam moved to Chicago to become the Executive Director of the Illinois Medical District and President of the Chicago Technology Park Corporation. While serving in this role, he recruited both start-up and large corporate life science tenants, oversaw the successful completion of the nation’s first tuition-free bioinformatics program, secured 9.5 acres for future Park expansion, and doubled the commercial research space.
While serving in this role, Sam attracted more than $1B in new construction, including the nation’s largest free-standing FBI facility. He also received many noble awards and served on numerous boards.
After serving in this role for 13 years, Sam moved back home to Northwest Arkansas, where he consulted and co-founded HRM Services, where he served as the acting CEO/Managing Consultant. During his tenure there, Sam negotiated the sale of the company to a venture-funded woman-owned business enterprise where he remained in a consultant role.
Everyone who had the honor of knowing Sam is left with memories of his generosity, kindness, thoughtfulness, wit and intelligence. Sam was a wonderful and loving son, brother, uncle, nephew and friend. He had such a loving heart for people and animals and touched countless lives with his giving spirit. He had a way of making friends with just about everyone he met, and an incredible gift of making people feel special, valued, and recognized. He had a knack for remembering everybody’s birthdays and anniversaries, as well as a natural talent for storytelling. He was a joy to be around and being in his presence was always a blessing. Those close to Sam know he loved music and he always found a song to match the occasion, bringing cheer and laughter to all. Those of us who knew Sam are deeply saddened by his loss, including his devoted dog and best friend, Beau Blue. Sam left this world a better place, and his spirit will be carried with us always.
Visitation will be held at the Heritage Funeral Home on Friday, March 12 between 1–4 PM. There will be a private memorial for the immediate family.
Donations in Sam’s honor may be made to the Springdale Animal Shelter by contacting them at (479) 750-8166. You may also elect to make donations to Bread of Life at First Church United Methodist by calling (479) 751- 4610.